Hookah war hots up as bar receives smoking ban fine

A GLASGOW shisha bar has become the first to be prosecuted in court for flouting Scotland's smoking ban.

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Limelight shisha bar, which was raided by city council inspectors and later found to be in breach of Scotland's smoking ban
Limelight shisha bar, which was raided by city council inspectors and later found to be in breach of Scotland's smoking ban

Limelight – one of several cafes offering the Middle Eastern water pipes to customers – was fined £620 last week after a series of raids by council inspectors.

The business, like several others in the city, has faced several fixed-penalty notices for breaching the Scottish Parliament's landmark "smoking in public places legislation".

Customers caught smoking inside its premises in Wallace Street, Tradeston, have also been issued with on-the-spot fines, but these cannot exceed £200.

The move by prosecutors to take Limelight to court marks a significant escalation on Glasgow's war on bars offering shisha pipes, which doctors stress can be more dangerous than cigarettes.

Limelight is understood to be the first shisha bar in Scotland to face a full court hearing for flouting the ban.

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said: "Shisha is covered by the nationwide ban on smoking in public places and we take enforcement against any breaches we are aware of.

"The rules are black and white."

Nobody at Limelight was available for comment yesterday. A green advertising sign above its door has been removed.

Shisha bars have boomed in Glasgow over the past two years as the craze for hookahs took off among Asian and white Scottish youth.

Young Muslims in particular say they prefer mixing in such cafes rather than pubs where alcohol is served.

However, Islamic leaders have attacked shisha.

A campaign was launched early this year in which imams declared the practice to be fitna – something that spread discord in the community.

Some community elders were understood to be uncomfortable that unmarried men and women were mixing.

Doctors have warned that shisha – a grass infused with fruit or fruit scent and often containing tobacco – causes cancer in the same way as cigarettes or cannabis.

Prosecutions under the smoking ban are rare – and usually only affect premises, such as pubs or restaurants, or individuals who fail to pay fixed-penalty fines.

The ban came into force in 2006. Shisha bars tried and failed to obtain an exemption when the legislation was proposed. It is understood all shisha operators in Glasgow have set up since the ban was imposed.

david.leask@eveningtimes.co.uk

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