The owner of a chain of shisha bars must pay fines and costs totalling more than £8,500 for allowing customers to smoke the exotic pipes inside three of his four premises on repeated occasions.
Sohail Khan, proprietor of the Café Havana chain, was found guilty in his absence by Croydon magistrates on 1 August of seven counts of allowing smoking in enclosed premises.
Returning to court on Tuesday (22) he was fined £1,000 for each of the seven offences, and ordered to pay legal costs of £1,462.77 and a £100 victim surcharge, totalling £8,562.77.
Shisha – believed to have originated in India, Persia or Turkey – is a glass-bottomed water pipe in which fruit-flavoured tobacco is covered with foil and roasted with charcoal. The sweetened tobacco smoke passes through a water chamber and is inhaled deeply and slowly.
The court heard that a standard letter had been sent to all shisha businesses in March 2016. The letter provided clear guidance to help businesses understand the requirements set out in the Health Act 2006 and The Smoke-free (Premises and Enforcement) Regulation 2006. A guidance note accompanied the letter.
Following the letter and guidance note, visits were made by officers from the council’s food safety team, including one to Khan, who was reminded of his legal responsibility to ensure that no smoking of shisha pipes took place inside fully enclosed premises.
In January, officers responding to complaints from members of the public, visited the branch at 1363 London Road, Norbury. There, they saw a number of people smoking inside the café. They also noted that two patio heaters – designed for external use – were alight inside the premises.
A letter sent to Khan in February, once again reminding him of the legislation around smoking in enclosed premises, was followed by three visits – to the branches in Suffolk House, George Street, and London Road – where, on each occasion, customers were witnessed smoking shisha.
On a further visit – this time to the branch at 1347 London Road, Norbury – officers spoke to the duty manager after seeing smokers enjoying shisha inside the café. He was told to ask the smokers to go outside, to the covered seating area, and was given a letter asking the owner, Khan, to attend a formal interview.
Despite that, a further visit, in May, revealed yet more smokers inside the café at 1363 London Road.
Khan attended the interview, on 19 May, then, on 31 May, smokers were once again witnessed inside the Suffolk House branch.
Councillor Hamida Ali, cabinet member for communities, safety and justice
“Many people smoke shisha believing it to be a safe alternative to cigarettes. Sadly, this isn’t the case; in fact, some experts believe that the volume of smoke inhaled in an hour-long shisha session is about the same as smoking between 100 and 200 cigarettes.
“Those concerns aside, the law clearly states that smoking – of any kind – is not permitted in enclosed public buildings. This man appears to have been doing little to discourage the smoking in his various premises despite having had a number of warnings from our officers.
“I hope that other owners of shisha bars take heed of this case and realise they should resist pressure from customers who insist on being allowed to smoke inside. If they fail to do so, they will face the full weight of the law.”