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Shisha

Smoking of Shisha in an enclosed or substantially enclosed place remains illegal and the health affects are severe.

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This page should be read in conjunction with our 'Smokefree Preston page'. 

What is smoking?

Smoking or being in possession of anything lit that can be smoked.  This includes smoking shisha (Hookah, goza, narghile) cigarettes (including bidis and kreteks) pipes, cigars etc. It is also illegal to smoke tobacco free cigarettes and tobacco free shisha.

What is Shisha?

Shisha is usually a tobacco product which is often mixed with fruit shavings and molasses to give it a sweet smell and taste.

The shisha is then placed in an ornate water pipe and inhaled through a tube. Shisha is also known by a number of names including hubbly bubbly, nargile pipe, hookah, goza and shisha.

For more information see NHS - Paan, bidi and shisha.

What is a substantially enclosed premises or room?

Premises will be considered to be enclosed if they have a ceiling or roof and, except for doors, windows or passageways, are wholly enclosed, whether on a permanent or temporary basis.

Premises are substantially enclosed if they have a ceiling or roof, but there are permanent openings in the walls which are less than half of the total areas of walls, including other structures which serve the purpose of walls and constitute the perimeter of premises.

This is known as the 50 per cent rule - put simply:

  • if 50 per cent of the walls or more are missing then it is legal to smoke in the area; or
  • if more than 50 per cent of the walls are present then it is illegal to smoke in the area

Our leaflet 'Rooms or Shelters in which people can legally smoke' explains the 50% rule in more detail. It offers examples of calculating the 50% rule and explains how Preston City Council deal with obstructions or nearby structures to openings which impede air flow.

Smokefree Signs

You must display smokefree signs in premises or rooms in which it is illegal to smoke. If you have a legal smoking area it would be prudent to place signs on the door(s) leading from the smoking area to the enclosed (indoor) areas. 

What are the Penalties?

Persons smoking or in possession of a lit article

A Fixed Penalty Notice of £50 may be served on the person smoking in a smokefree premises or work vehicle.

If they have been issued with a fixed penalty previously, or fail to pay then they will be prosecuted in the Magistrates Courts. If found guilty they can be fined up to £200 and will have a criminal record.

Persons in control of premises failing to display no-smoking signs 

A person in control of the premises (e.g. Owner and or Manager) may receive a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200. If they have been issued with a fixed penalty previously, or fail to pay the Fixed Penalty Notice, then they will be prosecuted in the Magistrates Courts.

If found guilty they can be fined up to £1000 and will have a criminal record.

Persons failing to prevent smoking

A person in control of the premises (e.g. Owner and or Manager) failing to prevent persons smoking in a smokefree place can be prosecuted in the Magistrates Courts and if found guilty can be fined up to £2500 and will have a criminal record.

Potential offences under other legislation

Some businesses may decide to allow persons to smoke in substantially enclosed premises/rooms and even provide smoking paraphernalia (such as shisha pipes).

Serious Crime Act

If you have no places within your premises that you can allow people to smoke legally then you may also be charged with encouraging or assisting smoking offences under the Serious Crime Act. You may be fined up to £200 per offence.

Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002

When shisha coals are burnt a bi-product of the combustion process is the toxic gas Carbon Monoxide.

Employees are exposed to Carbon Monoxide in both the preparation area and in the lounge area.

You are committing offences under the Health and Safety legislation by unnecessarily and illegally exposing your employees to the harmful effects of Carbon Monoxide. Offences under the Health and Safety at Work Act are subject to unlimited fines and up to 2 years in prison for individuals.

Other Considerations

  • Do you need Planning Permission? Failure to get planning permission could see your business closed. 
  • Do you need Building regulations permission? Failure to get building regulations permission could result in your extension being knocked down.
  • Will your business create a Statutory nuisance: e.g. noise and smells affecting neighbouring properties. Creating a nuisance could result in your business being restricted and prosecuted.
  • Are there any Fire Safety hazards, such as open flames, burning coals, electric heaters? Is there a  fire alarm, is it working? See Lancashire Fire and Rescue - Business Safety
  • Will you need a Licence for providing regulated entertainment and or late night refreshment (hot food or drinks)?
  • Have you registered as a Food business? See the pages on starting a food business
  • Have you considered the Health and Safety of employees and customers? See our Health and Safety for your new business pages.
    • Employees exposure to Carbon Monoxide
    • Have gas appliances been installed by and checked by a gas safe engineer?
    • Have electrical works been undertaken by and checked by a qualified electrician?
  • Have you considered how to guard against under age sales of tobacco, including staff training and required signage? See Lancashire.gov - Check 25
  • Has your shisha been imported legally? See GOV.UK - Tobacco Products Duty

Compliance with any of the above considerations does not automatically earn compliance with another. For example having planning permission does not mean that the structure is compliant with smoke-free law.

Frequently Asked Questions

Didn't the government pass a new law allowing shisha cafes to smoke inside?

This is a rumour, no such law has been passed. It remains illegal to smoke shisha in enclosed and substantially enclosed spaces.

Can people smoke Tobacco free shisha?

No, smoking any substance in enclosed and substantially enclosed spaces is illegal.

I was granted planning permission for a Shisha cafe, doesn't that make it legal?

No, planning permission will consider if a type of business and structures will have an overall detrimental impact on the surrounding area. Therefore having planning permission does not mean that the structure or use of the building is compliant with smoke-free law, or indeed building regulations.

Who can I sell to?

No tobacco product can legally be supplied to anyone under 18 years old. Given that waterpipes are normally shared, you must check the ages of the whole group and any friends who subsequently join them. It may be sensible to allow only over 18s into the premises/smoking areas. 

For more information see Lancashire.gov - Age restricted products - Check 25.

I don't have any employees, does my cafe still need to be smokefree?

Yes, as a business (workplace) and public space the shisha cafe still needs to be smokefree if it is substantially enclosed.

Can customers use e-shisha or e-cigarettes (Vaping)?

Yes electronic shisha and cigarettes do not 'burn' and therefore are legal. 

Do I need to display 'no-smoking signs'?

Yes, in those parts of the premises in which it is illegal to smoke you should display 'no-smoking signs'. It would be prudent to have such signage on doors that separate legal smoking areas from enclosed rooms (inside).

Facts about Shisha

It is illegal to smoke shisha in enclosed or substantially enclosed public places and smoking shisha has severe health affects.

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