They have been a point of contention for several years. But now, officials with the San Francisco Department of Public Health have threatened to shut down hookah lounges in the city.

KCBS radio reports that the Dream Hookah Lounge on Polk Street was the first to stop selling shisha, the flavored tobacco served up in the lounges, on Friday. Co-owner Kamel Asfour told the station that he is trying to convert Dream into a legal lounge, but doesn’t know if that’s a viable option.

“I think it’s ridiculous the way they’re shutting down a lot of lounges,” he said. “There are families that are relying on these types of business for support and income.”

Asfour said they have already laid off three employees.

The department said the hookah lounges have refused to obey state and local laws regarding indoor smoking, despite several warnings.

Many of the other popular lounges around San Francisco are expected to start closing as early as this week, although owners like Khaled Hegazy, who runs Cairo Nights on Geary Street, told the San Francisco Chronicle that he will fight the closure and “may even sue.”

Some owners are scheduled to appear at public health department hearings this week.



Photo Credit: Cairo Nights, via Facebook