Ottawa health officials say hookah bars should fall under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, much to the chagrin of businesses who say they're being unfairly targeted.

As Ottawa Public Health cracks down on smoking tobacco in public places like patios and beaches, they're also recommending that herbal waterpipes should be included in provincial anti-smoking legislation.

"The loophole in the system right now is that many of these establishments are saying that they're putting herbal products in the waterpipes and that therefore they do not need to follow the tobacco requirement," said Sherry Nigro of Ottawa Public Health.

Nigro said the changes would essentially mark the end of hookah bars in the city, where people gather to smoke herbal products called "sheesha".

"It's literally like you're going out for a coffee," said Nada Kubba. "I don't see why this would be an issue, people who come here choose to come here and they know what it is and they know the pros and cons."

One issue for the health board is the fact they inspected all of Ottawa's hookah bars last summer and found traces of tobacco in all but one of them.

Ali Cheikh said his sheesha is always tobacco free and worries the proposal would hurt businesses that follow the rules.

"No smoking inside, this is okay, this is the law," he said. "But the herbal is zero nicotine, zero tobacco, you know what I mean?"

Nigro said it's not just potential tobacco that can harm a smoker's health.

"There is a risk of infectious disease and this is enticing young people into social smoking which can of course turn into an addiction," she said.

The recommendations will be addressed in a special health board meeting on Monday.

With a report from CTV Ottawa's Ellen Mauro