Hookah is very popular on college campuses, and now hookah lovers have a new place to smoke and socialize in Wexford.
Heavenly Hookah opened its doors March 2, and according to owner Joshua Helfer, has enjoyed brisk business, particularly on the weekends.
Heavenly Hookah is located at 11883 Perry Highway, across from the Aldi’s grocery store. There is seating for 60, mostly on leather sofas and chairs. The hookah bar is divided into three smoking areas; one featuring big screen televisions, another with just music, and a third, private VIP room.
“We wanted it to be upscale, no one sitting on egg cartons, and attract not only young people but older professionals,” said Helfer. “Some of our clientele have included physicians and fortunate 500 company owners.”
A hookah is a single or multi-stemmed instrument for smoking flavored tobacco that is soaked in molasses. The smoke is passed through a water basin before inhalation. The tobacco smoked is referred to as “shisha” and comes in as many as 50 different flavors. It has been very popular in the Mideast for years.
“Because the tobacco is never lit, and the smoke is filtered through the water, there is no tar and much, much less nicotine that cigarettes,” said Helfer. “You could walk in here on a Saturday night, and the place could be packed with smokers, but when you left, your clothes would not smell like smoke.”
Helfer’s views on the safety of smoking hookah are not shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among the agency’s conclusions, posted on its website:
- The charcoal used to heat tobacco in the hookah increases the health risks by producing high levels of carbon monoxide, metals, and cancer-causing chemicals.
- Even after it has passed through water, the smoke produced by a hookah contains high levels of toxic compounds, including carbon monoxide, heavy metals, and cancer-causing chemicals.
- Hookah tobacco and smoke contain numerous toxic substances known to cause lung, bladder, and oral cancers.
Helfer, a mortgage banker, got the idea from his stepson, Richard Morrison, who recently graduated from the University of Cincinnati.
“He told me that unless you are 21, there is nowhere college-age people can go to socialize in the North Hills, and he thought a hookah bar would be perfect,” Helfer said.
But not everyone is welcome at Heavenly Hookah. “We card everyone and no one under the age of 18 is allowed, and we don’t allow cigarette or cigar smoking either, “ said Helfer. “I just wanted to create a nice, safe atmosphere where people can come and smoke some hookah and socialize.”