Fears a proliferation in shisha tobacco cafes in Lancashire could lead to more youngsters buying tobacco will be taken to Parliament by the county council.
The authority is joining other councils across England calling on central government to help councils to clamp down on shisha bars that flout smokefree laws. Smoking shisha tobacco is growing in popularity and in recent years eight have opened in Preston, although five have since closed. It is estimated that the amount of nicotine inhaled from a half-hour shisha session is equivalent to five cigarettes.
Health chiefs say many visitors to shisha bars are young people who are naive of the risks smoking tobacco causes. Nationally there has been a 210 per cent increase in the number of bars across the UK in the last five years. Lancashire County Council is to write to Anna Soubry MP, undersecretary of state for public health, asking for the government to consider introducing measures including increasing penalties that help councils to deal with shisha bars owners and changing the law to make it compulsory to license premises selling tobacco, to help reduce the number of young people buying tobacco.
County Coun Azhar Ali said: “The smokefree legislation was introduced in 2007 and has been a real success, resulting in fewer people being admitted to hospital with smoking-related illnesses.
“However, shisha bars present a new challenge. The smoke from shisha is very concentrated and can be much more powerful than cigarette smoke. Many shisha bars seem undeterred by the current legislation and we think that by introducing compulsory licensing for places selling tobacco, giving more controls to issue higher fines, and making it easier to tackle under-aged tobacco sales, the government could make it easier for councils to clamp down on shisha bar owners who deliberately ignore the smokefree law.
“We’ve written to the Government along with our district councils and other local authorities to ask them to consider these changes in the law.”
In July, Preston Café Ltd, operators of Pasha in Aqueduct Street, Ashton, were ordered to pay a £1,235 fine at Preston Magistrates’ Court.
Cafe bosses pleaded guilty to two offences: failing to prevent persons smoking in a smoke free place and failing to make sure that no-smoking signs were displayed.