The clock is ticking for a Rapid City hookah bar to comply with the statewide smoking ban. Ifrits Hookah Lounge has until April 29 to either stop serving alcohol or put away the water pipes. If not, police will start writing tickets. The downtown Rapid City lounge opened in 2010.
Because hookahs fall into a gray area, Pennington County State’s Attorney Glenn Brenner made an exception to the smoking ban that let the business allow indoor smoking and serve alcohol. But that’s about to change.
“This is indeed tobacco that’s being consumed in this business. It’s producing smoke and all the byproducts of smoke. They’re serving alcohol. It’s clearly in violation of state law and the exception of 2010,” Rapid City Police Chief Steve Allender said.
Unless there’s a court injunction, police will start enforcing the smoking ban at Ifrits by the end of the month.
On April 29, police plan to enter Ifrits and start issuing tickets if the business isn’t in compliance. But it’s not just the owners and staff that will face penalties.
“Anyone who’s smoking in that business can be ticketed. The patrons can be ticketed,” Allender said.
The fine is $25 per violation. And although it’s a petty offense, police are planning their moves carefully.
“I’m not anticipating this is going to be like Elliot Ness and his group raiding the underground liquor business. It’s going to be nothing like that. We’re going to go about it reasonably. The goal is to get compliance and all the business has to do is now choose between alcohol and hookah. That’s all they have to do to get into compliance,” Allender said.