First prosecutions brought against shisha bars

Two café owners are the first in the city to be prosecuted for flouting the well-established smoking ban by allowing shisha to be smoked.

Tahir Tufail, owner of Rendezvous Café on Clarendon Road, and Kamran Tarik, owner of Roundhay Road Snooker and Sheesha Café, failed to appear before Leeds Magistrates yesterday. The cases were tried in their absence.

Both were found guilty of allowing shisha to be smoked in an enclosed public space, made illegal in 2007 under smoke-free legislation.

Tufail was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £3,387.54 costs and a £120 victim surcharge while a £2,500 fine, costs totalling £2789.22 and a £120 victim surcharge must be paid by Tarik.

The cases are the first to be brought against shisha café owners by Leeds City Council.

Both premises were the subject of various complaints about shisha which involves inhaling smoke from flavoured tobaccos through a waterpipe. Tufail and Tarik received advice and several warnings from the council to ensure they complied with the law.

Environmental health officers, along with police and HM Revenue and Customs officers visited Rendezvous Café in October 2012 where they witnessed people smoking shisha pipes.

A similar visit to Roundhay Snooker and Shisha Café in August 2012 by environmental health officers and police found noone smoking at the time. However, police witnessed shisha smoking during a subsequent visit in October 2012.

Despite the level of advice and warnings both café owners had been given by various officers of the council and other enforcement agencies over a prolonged period of time, they deliberately flouted the law.

With the number of shisha bars operating in the city increasing, the council is keen to ensure they comply with the law and hopes to educate people about the effects of smoking with a waterpipe.

Councillor Mark Dobson, executive member for the environment said:

“People are well aware of the smoking ban, but might not appreciate that it also applies to shisha smoking.

“With an apparent growth in the number of these cafés operating in Leeds we want to be satisfied that businesses are operating within the law.

“Of even greater concern, is that many people aren’t aware of the harm shisha can cause. It is not a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes and poses a serious health risk to shisha smokers and those who inhale it as second hand smoke.

“We will continue to pursue and prosecute those who fail to comply with the legislation.”

Advice issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) states that smoking a shisha pipe for one hour involves inhaling 100 to 200 times the amount of smoke inhaled with just one cigarette.

The WHO advice also dispels the myth that smoking through water renders it safe – even after passing through water, the smoke produced by the pipes contain high levels of toxins.

In reality shisha smoke contains carcinogens in similar levels to ordinary tobacco smoke but, as a consequence of the way the tobacco is burnt, the level of carbon monoxide is much higher.

Notes to editors:

The Health Act 2006 and its associated Smoke-free (Premises and Enforcement) regulations 2006 came into effect on 1 July 2007. The legislation prohibits smoking (including shisha smoking) in enclosed and substantially enclosed workplaces and public places.

The World Health Organisation advises that:

  1. Using a waterpipe to smoke tobacco poses a serious potential health hazard to smokers and others exposed to the smoke emitted.

  2. Using a waterpipe to smoke is not a safe alternative to cigarette smoking.

  3. A typical one hour water pipe smoking session involves inhaling 100 – 200 times the volume of smoke inhaled with one cigarette.

  4. Even after passing through water, smoke produced by a waterpipe contains high levels of toxic compounds including carbon monoxide, heavy metals and carcinogenic chemicals.

  5. Commonly used heat sources such as wood cinders or charcoal are likely to increase health risks because their combustion produces their own toxicants including carbon monoxide, heavy metals and carcinogenic chemicals.

  6. Pregnant women and the foetus are particularly vulnerable when exposed either actively or involuntarily to waterpipe smoke toxicants.

  7. Second-hand smoke from waterpipes is a mixture of tobacco smoke and smoke from the fuel therefore poses a serious risk for non-smokers.

  8. There is no proof that any device or accessory can make waterpipe smoking safer.

  9. Sharing a waterpipe mouthpiece poses a serious risk of transmission of communicable diseases including tuberculosis and hepatitis.

  10. Waterpipe tobacco is often sweetened and flavoured, making it appealing; the sweet smell and taste attracts people, particularly the young, to use waterpipes where they would not otherwise use tobacco.

For media enquiries please contact:

Amanda Burns, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1577
email: amanda.l.burns@leeds.gov.uk