Preston’s shisha cafes are thriving while the city’s pubs are closing at a record rate.
One former nightclub owner who claims his club was forced to close as a result of the smoking ban is furious after the site reopened as a shisha cafe.
Graham McMahon, who ran The Mill Nightclub in Aqueduct Street, Preston, said anomalies in the law have left pubs and nightclubs closing at a record rate while shisha smoking cafes are opening up around the country.
The publican, who invested more than £200,000 in The Mill before it closed, says it is unfair that shisha cafes are now able to thrive on the back of the closures and called on the council to crackdown on the sites.
Mr McMahon, who has been in the club industry for 40 years, said: “It’s not the first in Preston. The powers that be don’t seem to be able to stop them. I have spoken to the powers that be and the smoking a shisha pipe is the same as a cigarette. But they don’t seem to be able to stop the cafes.”
He added: “I want it shut down. At the end of the day it is time somebody at the authority gets their act together with this.
“Soon there will be nothing but shisha cafes. It is going to get a lot worse.”
Preston’s MP Mark Hendrick backed the publicans’ call. He said: “The smoking ban doesn’t just apply to cigarettes it applies to all forms of tobacco smoke people are inhaling.
“If they are in breach of regulations the authority should deal with it.
“I wouldn’t personally use a shisha cafe but I can understand why people do.”
Ronnie Fitzpatrick, landlord of the Dog and Partridge on Friargate, said it seems unfair that a shisha cafe is able to let people smoke in a venue that closed result of the smoking ban.
He said many pubs have felt the impact of the smoking ban and called for one rule for all.
He said: “I think it goes against the grain. We can’t smoke in pubs then they shouldn’t be smoking in these cafes.
“If we are going to have a ban lets have a ban for everyone.”
Speaking about the closure of The Mill last November, Graham, from Leyland, said: “We were just fed up of fighting the smoking ban. People are not going to come out and stand in the pouring rain to have a cigarette when they can sit at home.
“(The smoking ban) was the death knell for the entire industry.
“We had the club when it was doing extremely well. On July 1, 2007 the ban came in and takings dropped 62% that week and they never came back.”
Today, bosses at the shisha cafe - Pasha - stressed that they are complying with all regulations.
However, Preston Council said the site had been visited by council and police teams and concerns have been raised it may not complying with the regulations.
Pasha opened in September and was first visited by the council and the police on October 6.
A letter was then hand delivered to the cafe telling them that people can’t smoke inside, a council spokesman said.
The spokesman for the council said it is now up to the business to comply but if the next time they visit the regulations are still being breached could will face prosecution.
The premises can be fined a maximum of £2,500 and any person who is found inside the building smoking will be issued with a fixed penalty ticket of £50.
However, the manager of the nightclub, Victor Hussain, insists the cafe is complying with all regulations.
He said: “We have had the council come and do inspections and they have never said anything.”
He also said that the cafe has not received a letter from the council.