NJ, TN (CNN) — The biggest cities in Tennessee are in for more hookah clubs this year.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) is expecting to release the findings of its first investigation into hookah addiction.
TBI Director David T. Jones said the results are critical to the health of the state’s citizens.
“It’s critical that we have an understanding of the prevalence of this disorder,” Jones said.
“I don’t think we can do this without having a full understanding of it.”
The investigation began last summer and is expected to conclude later this month.
For years, people across the state have complained about the prevalence and prevalence of hookah use.
According to a 2015 study from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, 1 in 3 people who had tried hookah reported some form of alcohol abuse or dependence.
“It can be a very isolating experience,” said Chris Wilson, who is addicted to hookah and has been in rehab for several years.
“It can take you by surprise.
People don’t realize you’re using hookah.”
Wilson was addicted to the drug for a year before being diagnosed with alcoholism.
“I had an incredible amount of friends,” Wilson said.
He said his addiction is largely fueled by social isolation and a desire to meet new people.
But many people also report experiencing problems with hookah in the state.
A 2014 study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found more than 50 percent of people who tried hookahs said they experienced a loss of control, anxiety or depression.
In the case of Wilson, his withdrawal symptoms are so severe that he is still hospitalized and in rehab.
“(Hookah) can be very dangerous,” Wilson told CNN.
Last year, Tennessee banned hookah lounges and bars and created a task force to identify the most unsafe places to get and smoke hookah.
However, many bars remain open and there are currently more than 60 active hookah operations.
“The most dangerous places are still open, but they’re not the most safe,” Jones told CNN affiliate WREG.
“We need to make sure they’re safer, because it can be deadly.”
The investigation started with the TBI’s request for information.
After looking into more than 1,000 reported cases of hookahs, the agency found that most of the establishments are open at least once a week.
It found that almost half of the people who reported hookah-related incidents in 2016 reported that they used hookah on their own or with someone they knew.
Some of the more common types of reported hookahs are single-user hookahs with a hookah filter and a hookahs-style hookah bowl that are used for personal use.
“It was an area that we identified that we felt there was a need to look into,” Jones explained.
There are also many hookah establishments that are closed to the public.
Jones said the task force is looking into the locations where hookah has been found in violation of the law.
When a violation is found, it could result in the establishment being shut down or the owners being fined.
“If we find violations, we have a process that allows us to take action,” Jones noted.
Most of the hookah operators that were cited were arrested and charged with a number of violations, including underage consumption, operating without a permit, and possession of an unregistered hookah pipe.
Many of the venues where hookahs were found have since closed down.