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Shisha more harmful than cigarettes

Published Wednesday, 01 May 2013

Shisha bars that break the law risk being prosecuted if they don't mend their ways, according to the Enfield and Haringey Tobacco Control Alliance which is campaigning to highlight the dangers of smoking shisha tobacco.

The Alliance is a joint programme by public health teams at both Enfield and Haringey Councils, and trading standards officers from the two boroughs have also joined forces to tackle illegal practices in shisha bars.

Some of the problems already identified with shisha bars include use of illegal smoking shelters where smoking is effectively taking place indoors, sales of untaxed tobacco, shisha tobacco being served without written and pictorial health warnings and a failure to display statutory warning signs on the premises about under the age sales.

With these factors in mind, the Alliance wrote to all 19 shisha bars in the two boroughs and followed this recently with a series of multi agency raids involving council enforcement officers, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, and police.

During six recent raids in Haringey more than 50kgs of smuggled tobacco - representing a loss to the government in unpaid duty of £4,600 - was discovered. Some shisha bar owners were also serving tobacco without the required health warnings.

Enfield Council's Cabinet Member for Environment, Cllr Chris Bond, said: "There is plenty of evidence to show that shisha is more harmful than cigarettes, so it’s really important that traders comply with the law and make sure appropriate warnings are prominently displayed.

"Enfield Council will be working hard to make sure shisha bars are not flouting the law and will take appropriate action, including prosecution where we find this is not the case."

Haringey's Cabinet Member for the Environment, Cllr Nilgun Canver, welcomed the Alliance's partnership approach: “Shisha pipes, where tobacco is smoked after being cooled when it is passed through water, can be far more harmful than cigarettes. The World Health Organisation estimates that someone smoking a shisha pipe for an hour inhales 100 times as much smoke as that from a single cigarette.

"Smoking shisha fruit flavoured tobacco has become popular with young people who are often completely unaware that they are inhaling something which has such a risk to their health. It is vitally important therefore, that health warnings are displayed clearly so that people know what they are inhaling.

"Our officers will continue to inspect shisha bars to ensure they comply with the law, those not doing so will face prosecution and potentially heavy fines.”

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