Ellensburg Hookah Lounge; Blessing or Curse?

Ellensburg Hookah Lounge; Blessing or Curse?
ELLENSBURG -- A beautiful courtyard and a comfy lounge make for a great hangout, but this new spot has something different-- Hookah.

"They've really expressed a liking for having a place to go at night," says The Lounge owner, TJ McDonald.

TJ says that his top priority when opening The Lounge was giving young adults a safe place to go.

"We provide a safe place at night for the 18, 19, 20 year olds," TJ says. "I feel like that's something this community is lacking."

But, this funky hangout is not a health club, and that's a problem with the local health district. They told me that smoking a hookah, like smoking cigarettes, is a dangerous habit. TJ is not arguing.

"I agree smoking is not a healthy habit, and we make that very clear to our members," says TJ.

18 year old, RJ, is not a member yet, but is a hookah fan.

"It's their decision, and If they're smoking hookah it's their decision to have bad chemicals in their lungs," says RJ.

When TJ does visit the lounge, he will have to pay and sign a contract before smoking the sheesha.

Even I had to sign a contract before entering The Lounge. That's all because this hookah lounge is required to be private. In the state of Washington it is illegal to smoke in an indoor public place. Another rule in Kittitas County is that you can't sell and smoke tobacco in the same spot--well within 25 feet.

"We follow all the laws that are written," says TJ.

TJ has every license and every permit, and has every intention of staying open for business. In fact, he's adding up to 10 new members every night.

Giving 18 year olds like RJ a safe place to unwind--Depending, of course, on your definition of safe.