Monday, 25 February 2019

Councils get in a hubble-bubble over hookahs

The Local Government Association is in a funk about shisha bars:
‘Smoke-free laws are not offering strong enough punishments to deter irresponsible shisha bar owners who are making lucrative profits, which means councils often need to carry out costly and lengthy investigations to take action against the same bar over and over again.’
Let's piggle away at this one a bit. There's a market for people who want to go to a bar and smoke shisha (hookahs, hubble-bubble pipes for those who don't know about them - interesting that the Arab word, shisha, has come to be most common even among South Asian populations). And, because there are people who want to smoke said hubble-bubble pipes, unscrupulous business owners provide them and make "lucrative" profits.

Seems to me that the problem here isn't the unscrupulousness of owners or the lack of council powers - it's the smoking ban. There is no justification at all for banning people from voluntarily going into a private space to consume a legal drug. Councils are frothing away at this because the bars have priced in the risk of a fine and therefore councils want more powers, no doubt up to and including arrest and imprisonment, to deal with all this.

When we're looking at things that Council's really shouldn't be bothering about, grown men and women smoking shisha in a comfortable bar is up there near the top of the list. What's worse is that these licensing numpties don't understand why such places end up run by ne'er do wells. It's because of that smoking ban again. Organised criminals have always walked in lockstep with the puritans - one lot gets to cash in while the others get to pretend they're stopping "rogues" and protecting the public from terrible and sinful activities.

If you relax the smoking ban - perhaps just to allow cigars clubs, shisha bars and smoking rooms - then nearly all of this dastardly criminality will go away.



Anonymous said...

There are far too few rules.

I'd bring in a Cat Licence.

Pub Man said...

Might it also be the case that councils are somewhat more reluctant to enforce the law in relation to shisha bars than with, say, white working-class pubs?

Dan said...

The best way to understand what is going on is to look at what has happened with e-cigs. These take a liquid mixture of glycerine, propyl glycol and flavourings plus a very small and carefully-controlled amount of nicotine, and pass the mixture over a heating element to turn it into a vapour, much as a commercial smoke machine does.

The ingredients are harmless, and licenced for human consumption. The act of turning them into an inhaled aerosol doesn't make it toxic.

Now, people quite like e-cigs. People like inhaling aerosol vapours as a substitute for smoking, and people really like smoking without the carcinogenic risks. E-cigs are rapidly taking over from conventional tobacco as a nicotine drug delivery system of choice.

You would therefore think that all the anti-tobacco smoking activists would look at this and say "Cor blimey, a non-damaging smoking substitute that people like; let's abandon all our non-working smoking cessation products and promote this one which actually works as much as possible!"

This is not what happened.

Instead, the anti-smoking people are deeply set against e-cigs, and the implied reasoning is that it isn't so much tobacco as people enjoying a drug that they don't like.

Jonathan Bagley said...

I still oppose the smoking ban, but am suprised it is felt extra powers are needed to get shisha bars to comply with it. Assuming the smoking ban does actually cover shisha (is that definitely the case?), a £2500 fine for each infringement is surely a huge deterrent; and if the activity is so blatant, gathering the evidence shouldn't be difficult. There appears to something we are not being told. I can't imagine a cafe staying open for long were the owner to permit smoking of cigarettes.