Councils are demanding for licensing powers which will help them removed shisha bars operating illegally.
The Local Government Association (LGA) has struggled to deal with premises which violate regulations, which include smoking indoors and serving those under the age of 18. Prosecutions are slow to kick in and, due to making large sums of money, owners are not afraid to pay fines of £2,500.
Another part of the problem, council leaders say, is the law of secrecy regarding the ownership of such properties. Because the local councils and police are held back from acting against them, offenders can simply open new bars under a new name. To make matters worse, shisha bars have trebled in recent years, and a lot of it is imported illegally.
The LGA are calling for an extension of the activities that councils can license. This would make it easier to check license-holders before bars were opened, monitor them more effectively and revoke licenses for repeat offenders.
Licensing powers could also mean local public health teams will work with shisha bar owners to educate customers about the risks associated with shisha; it is believed shisha is less harmful than cigarette smoke, yet it contains cigarette tobacco. This means it will contain nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide and more, so shisha smokers are in danger of developing the same health problems as a regular smoker, including heart disease and cancer.