Shisha bars ‘should be licensed’

It says new, tougher powers are needed to crack down on shisha bars that breach smoking laws and are linked to anti-social behaviour.

The number of shisha premises has increased significantly in recent years, but councils currently lack the tools with which to regulate them and take enforcement action when needed.

A licensing regime would enable councils to grant or refuse licences for new shisha premises, revoke or suspend licences, and add conditions to licences to improve safety.

This follows a series of incidents where some shisha premises have allowed smoking indoors, flouted fire safety, and sold illicit shisha.

Shisha bars do not require a licence or registration unless they serve alcohol, have other regulated entertainment or serve food between 11pm and 5am.

The LGA is also calling for an increase in the level of fines for indoor shisha-smoking and for these to be levied against businesses, not just customers. It also wants a ban on flavoured shisha tobacco, as is currently the case with regular tobacco products.

In addition, the LGA is calling for mandatory health warnings on shisha products, including smoking paraphernalia, and mandatory warning signs on every shisha bar table that tobacco must not be sold to under-18s.

Cllr Heather Kidd, Chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: “It is not right that a venue requires a licence to serve a hot drink after 11pm, but not for smoking shisha. 

“Licensing shisha would also send a stronger and clearer health message around the potential dangers of shisha smoking, as there is a common misconception that it is a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes.”

See ‘Reducing the harm of shisha’, an LGA policy paper.


Councils face ‘urgent and important’ challenges

Making women and girls feel safe