Hookah, also known as shisha or waterpipe, is a centuries-old smoking tradition originating from the Middle East. It involves the use of a water pipe to smoke flavored tobacco, which is gaining popularity worldwide for its communal and social aspects.
The Dominican Republic has a rich history of tobacco production and consumption, with cigars being the most iconic product associated with the country. Read our article review of Dominican and Cuban cohiba. However, in recent years, the introduction of Dominican hookah has added a new dimension to the smoking culture in this Caribbean paradise.
Legality of Hookah in the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is one of the countries that has banned the use of hookah in public and private places. And recently, the Dominican President enacted legislation (Law 16-19) prohibiting the use of hookah at indoor places and in vehicles This law was promulgated on February 18, 2019 by the President of the Republic, Danilo Medina.
The law imposes fines for owners and users, with fines ranging from 10 to 100 pesos. And the Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance is empowered to regulate compliance and implement preventive campaigns.
This law does not affect tobacco control laws, such as Law 48-00 on Tobacco Control and its Harmful Effects on Health.
Hookah Culture in the Dominican Republic
Hookah smoking is a relatively recent phenomenon in the Dominican Republic, particularly among young people and tourists. The popularity of hookah is influenced by cultural diversity, availability, affordability, and socialization factors. In 2017, 11.4% of Dominicans aged 13 to 15 had smoked hookah at least once in their lifetime, and 6.8% had smoked hookah in the past 30 days.
The study found that hookah smoking was more prevalent among males (14.1%) and urban residents (12.9%) than rural residents (7.9%). These figures may not reflect the current situation, as they are based on data from 2017, before the legal ban on hookah was enacted in 2019. Hookah smoking may have decreased or increased since then, depending on the enforcement and compliance of the law.
Factors contributing to the popularity of hookah in the Dominican Republic include the availability and affordability of hookah products, as well as the cultural diversity and openness of the country. The country is a melting pot of different ethnicities and influences, with hookah smoking being one of the customs adopted by some Dominicans from Middle Eastern immigrants. Socialization is another factor that influences hookah smoking, as it creates a sense of belonging, friendship, and fun among its users.
However, hookah smoking has negative consequences for Dominican culture and society. It can generate waste and pollution from charcoal burning and tobacco disposal, divert resources from other productive sectors, and promote a culture of addiction or irresponsibility among its citizens.
Bringing Hookah to the Dominican Republic
Travelers who intend to bring hookah and tobacco into the Dominican Republic should be aware of the country’s customs and import rules. Hookah equipment may be confiscated at customs for several reasons, including confusion with non-regulated vaping devices. Hookahs, on the other hand, are not permitted in flight baggage in order to avoid fires at the Hard Rock hotel and resort in the Dominican Republic.
While some people still use hookah clandestinely or openly, it is not recommended to risk breaking the law and facing legal consequences. Some resorts have issued notices prohibiting hookah use in their facilities, such as the Hard Rock hotel and resort in the Dominican Republic.
Hookah in Punta Cana
Punta Cana, a popular tourist destination in the Dominican Republic, is known for its beautiful beaches, resorts, and nightlife. Hookah lovers can enjoy this relaxing activity in Punta Cana, but it is illegal in the country and restricted in public and private places. To avoid hassles and risks, it is best to leave your hookah at home or buy one locally.
There are several places that offer hookah in Punta Cana, either legally or illegally. One such place is Alibabar Hookah Lounge, a nightly hookah bar with a unique sound system, atmosphere, and staff. However, this place has been permanently closed by Tripadvisor.
Another option is the Punta Cana Snorkelling + Hookah Diving Tour, which combines snorkeling in the Caribbean sea with hookah diving. The tour takes you on a catamaran to explore the coral reefs and marine life of Punta Cana, while enjoying nachos, cheese, and an open bar. You can then try hookah diving, which involves using a long hose attached to an air compressor on the boat.
The hookah scene in Punta Cana is not very popular or common, as it is in other Caribbean destinations like Jamaica or Cuba. Most Dominicans prefer cigars or cigarettes over hookah, and many tourists are not aware of the hookah ban or the risks involved. As a result, the hookah scene in Punta Cana is not very developed or vibrant, making it difficult to find places that offer hookah or people who share your passion.
Comparing Hookah and Vaping Laws in the Dominican Republic
Hookah and vaping are popular smoking methods among young adults, but not all countries have the same laws or regulations regarding these products. In the Dominican Republic, a Caribbean country that attracts many tourists, there are no specific laws regulating the sale, manufacture, supply, use, display, and advertising of e-cigarette products. However, there is a possibility that electronic cigarette equipment may be confiscated at customs due to confusion with the hookah, which is regulated. This has no legal validity, as there is no law prohibiting electronic cigarettes as prohibited items in luggage.
To bring vaping equipment to Punta Cana or other destinations in the Dominican Republic, it is advisable to contact [email protected] and ask if there are no problems. Electronic cigarettes are battery-powered devices and will not be allowed in airplane baggage to avoid a fire accident. They could only be allowed in carry-on baggage.
Hookah is not as popular in the Dominican Republic as in other Caribbean destinations like Jamaica or Cuba due to legal restrictions and cultural differences. Most Dominicans prefer cigars or cigarettes over hookah, and many tourists are unaware of the ban or risks involved. The hookah scene is not very developed or vibrant, making it difficult to find places offering it or sharing passions. However, hookah has some presence in the music scene and some places that offer it despite the law. For example, Bad Bunny’s “La Romana” song features a catchphrase “pásame la hookah” and Alibabar Hookah Lounge, a nightly hookah bar.