Shisha bars prosecuted

Managers of two shisha bars in the
city have been prosecuted for failing to comply with the smoke free

Mohammed Ali, from Arabyia and Suliman
Ahmed from Al Qasa, both on Cross Stamford Street, 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 by the Health Act

Ali was fined £1,000, ordered to pay
£1,192.50 in costs and a £100 victim surcharge, while a fine of £1,500, costs
totalling £1,144 and a victim surcharge of £100 must be paid by Ahmed.

Both shisha bars had received letters
in the past relating to smoking indoors, and in October 2013 Environmental
Health Officers (EHOs) visited both premises to provide advice on the smoke
free legislation and how to comply with the law. The businesses were warned
that follow up visits would be made, and if smoking was taking place inside,
further action would be taken.

A team including officers from the
council’s environmental health team, HM Revenue and Customs, West Yorkshire
Trading Standards and supported by West Yorkshire Police made further visits in
November 2013.

During these visits officers found
shisha smoking taking place inside the premises. HMRC, also seized quantities
of shisha from both premises where it could not be proved that duty had been

A further visit was made to Al Qasa in
March, where smoking was again taking place inside, and Mr Ahmed was charge with
a further offence.

The sentences were passed in the month
that a wider 'Keep it out' campaign
against illegal tobacco was rolled out through West Yorkshire, where members of
the public are invited to anonymously share information about illegal tobacco sales
by phoning the Crimestoppers 0800 555 111 number or through www.crimestoppers-uk.org .

Shisha smoking involves inhaling smoke from flavoured
tobaccos through a waterpipe and despite misconceptions, shisha cafés are
subject to the smoking ban.

Mark Dobson, executive member for the environment said:

“We are responsible for enforcing the
smoking ban and this applies to shisha bars too.

“Many people simply aren’t aware of
the harm shisha can cause. Many believe the myth that it’s a safer alternative
to smoking cigarettes but that’s simply not true. Smoking shisha poses serious
health risks.

“Thanks to the combined efforts of our
staff and partners, we can help to educate people about the harm it can cause
and, and work with businesses to assist them in complying with the law.

“Where our attempts to work with
businesses fail, and they continue to operate outside the law we will have no
hesitation in taking further action.”

Authorities are keen to ensure places
serving shisha comply with the law and hope to educate people about the effects
of smoking with a waterpipe.

The council is supporting a project
being run by West Yorkshire Trading Standards and NHS colleagues on niche
tobacco, which includes shisha smoking. The project is working with black,
minority and ethnic communities in specific locations to make people aware of
the health risks.

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.

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.

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

  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.

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City Council press office (0113) 224 3602