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Capitol Hill’s Cobra Lounge still smoking as King County takes closer look at hookah bars

We haven’t checked in with the Cobra Lounge since the hookah club lit its first bowls of shisha at the intersection of Madison and Union back in late march. As we told you then, the Cobra was the second project from a group that figured out how to navigate the state and county bureaucracy surrounding tobacco-based businesses with its first club up in Bellingham.

Recently, another nearby club caught the attention of King County Health. Majles Cafe, on 12th Ave down across Madison, got dinged by inspectors last summer for various infractions including allowing non-members to smoke but, instead of packing it up and shutting down, Majles has re-opened in an even larger space:

Cobra owner Erin Cobb told us in March that he was setting up the Capitol Hill club differently than his Bellingham venture. In Bellingham, Cobra customers buy their shisha in one area and move to a separate club location nearby to smoke it and hang out. On Capitol Hill, Cobb said set up the lounge as one facility. But he’s also ready to convert the space to a layout he believes will put the lounge in compliance. Cobb told us this week that King County Health has been in touch but they gave him “no real word on what is happening with the other hookah lounges,” he said. Right now, it’s business as usual for the Cobra. The club also has an application for a liquor license posted so it’s possible that soon club goers will be able to enjoy a drink and a smoke. Meanwhile, according to KING 5, Majles has until July 15 to prove to County Health that it is complying with state laws.

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5 thoughts on “Capitol Hill’s Cobra Lounge still smoking as King County takes closer look at hookah bars

  1. Yes, it is class-based. Certain classes ignore the rules more than other classes so governments will always go after those classes more.

    People who smoke cigars are wealthy and you know what they say about people who frequent hookah bars.

  2. “Yes, it is class-based. Certain classes ignore the rules more than other classes so governments will always go after those classes more.”

    Well, as with other vices. But I was wondering if anyone knew any specific statutes that discriminate between the two.


    “Smoking prohibited in public places or places of employment.

    No person may smoke in a public place or in any place of employment.”


    “Washington’s Initiative 901, passed in the November 2005 general election, amends Washington’s Clean Indoor Air Act to prohibit smoking in all public places and places of employment as well as 25 feet from any entrance, exit, opening window, or ventilation intake at a public place or place of employment. According to the initiative’s text, its intent is to protect the public and workers from second-hand smoke by prohibiting smoking in all public places and places of employment.

    Under the initiative, a “public place” where smoking is prohibited is any part of a building or vehicle used by and open to the public, regardless of whether the building or vehicle is owned by a public or private entity. It also includes the 25 foot boundary area described above. Unlike prior Washington law, “public place” now includes bars, bowling alleys, non-tribal casinos, and similar businesses.

    The issue of whether the new law applies to private clubs (e. g. yacht clubs, country clubs, and fraternal organizations) depends on the circumstances. When clubs are operated privately, employ no staff, and are not open to the public, smoking is permitted, according to the Washington State Department of Health. However, if a private club is used for a public function or the private club has employees, then the smoking prohibition applies. “

    Now, this makes sense with fully volunteer-run clubs like the Mercury, but I do wonder about the enforcement of the rest. You’re probably not going to have a lot of looky-loos that’d report a Country Club, or enforcement agents that’ll respond to such a call.

  3. there’s also a good possibility that the health dept just doesn’t know that these places exist.