In Iceland, since 2007 it’s been illegal to smoke indoors in public buildings such as restaurants, bars, cafés, on school grounds, sport facilities, and public spaces inside apartments buildings. The list is long, but you get the idea. So, it’s no wonder why hookah bars don’t exist in Iceland, as it leads to smoking indoors. When the smoking ban was implemented ten years ago, polls showed that the population was in favour of it; only 18% of the population was opposed to the ban.
Hookah, otherwise known as shisha smoking, originates from the Middle East and some areas of Asia It is popular in the UK and amongst young people in many cultures. Essentially it’s a way of smoking tobacco through a hose or tube joined to a bowl, connected to a water chamber. It’s like smoking for people who don’t like smoking, since you can mix the tobacco with fruit or sugar. It’s kind of interesting, mixing tobacco, a super unhealthy substance, with fruit. It looks really cool though, and unfortunately if you haven’t tried it outside of Iceland, it’s not happening here.
In most bars around Reykjavík there are small designated smoking areas outside, and if you’re lucky you might end up at a bar with a heated one too—I like to call them smokers’ prison. Hookah bars are kind of like that, but way more fancy, with low lights and gauzy tapestries. Perhaps if you bring your own equipment and décor, you can set up makeshift hookah bar…it probably won’t be the same though.