General advice for shisha business operators

If you are the owner of a café, bar or restaurant which sells or supplies shisha there are certain legal requirements that you must comply with. The following information about smoke-free legislation includes smoke from shisha products

The Health Act 2006 makes it a requirement to keep indoor public places and workplaces, including work vehicles, smoke-free. The legislation was designed to protect workers and members of the public from the serious health risks of second-hand smoke.

Smoking is only permitted in shelters and outdoor areas that are not enclosed or substantially enclosed - this includes smoke from shisha.

How does smoke-free legislation affect premises?

Smoking is prohibited in all enclosed or 'substantially enclosed' public places and workplaces.

It is an offence to:

  • Smoke in smoke-free premises
  • Permit others to smoke in smoke-free premises
  • Fail to display at least one warning sign within smoke-free premises

A smoking shelter must be at least 50% open all of the time. Doors, windows and tent/marquee side-panels will be classed as part of the wall if they can be shut or rolled up. If rugs, carpets or sheeting are used to cover up the spaces so that it is no longer at least 50% open, this will be in breach of the legislation.   

Which premises are affected by the smoke-free legislation?

Smoke-free legislation affects all premises which:

  • The public has access to: for example pubs, clubs, restaurants, cafes
  • Are being used as a place of work
  • Are being used for providing education, heath, or care services

'Work' also covers voluntary work, so if a village hall holds an event staffed by volunteers, it must be smoke-free. If the public attended it would be both a workplace and a public place.

Are there any premises exempt from the smoke-free legislation?

Yes. Premises which are used as a full-time place of residence for extended periods, for example: private dwellings and adult care homes in private residential spaces. Designated rooms in hotels, hostels and bed and breakfast accommodation are exempt since they are places where people live even though they are not private homes.

Smoking in vehicles

All vehicles used for public transport such as buses, trains and taxis, are smoke-free at all times.

Where a vehicle is used as a workplace by more than one person, regardless of whether they are in the vehicle at the same time, it is required to be smoke-free at all times. This protects other workers using the same vehicle from the hazards of second-hand smoke. A worker can smoke in a company car that only they use, if their employer agrees.

What are the penalties for smoking in a smoke-free place?

  • Smoking in a smoke-free place can lead to a fixed penalty of £50 (reduced to £30 if paid in 15 days); or a maximum fine of £200 if convicted by a court.
  • Failure to prevent smoking in a smoke-free place - a fine of £2,500 (no fixed penalty option)
  • Failure to display a 'no smoking' sign in a smoke-free place, can lead to a fixed penalty of £200 (reduced to £150 if paid in 15 days) or a maximum fine of £1000 if convicted by a court.

Enforcement of smoke-free legislation

Council staff work closely with businesses to help them comply with smoke-free legislation. The Council will also undertake inspections which are either proactive, or reactive in response to complaints, to check compliance.

Prosecution and the use of fixed penalty notices is not the first course of action, but will be used in serious situations and as a last resort.

What is shisha?

A specially prepared tobacco is heated to produce smoke which bubbles through a bowl of water and into a long hose-like pipe to be breathed in. Shisha pipes have a mouthpiece fitted to inhale the smoke. The tobacco can come in different flavours and sometimes it’s mixed with a dark brown sugar (called molasses sugar), often making the smoke smell sweet. It is usually heated by burning wood, coal or charcoal.

According to the British Heart Foundation, shisha can increase your risk of heart and circulatory diseases because it usually contains harmful chemicals. In a shisha session (which usually lasts 20-80 minutes), a shisha smoker can inhale the same amount of smoke as a cigarette smoker consuming over 100 cigarettes.

Like cigarette smoking, these toxins from tobacco-based shisha puts smokers at risk of developing:

  • heart and circulatory diseases
  • cancers
  • nicotine addiction
  • respiratory infections and conditions.

Even if you use tobacco-free shisha, the smoke still produces harmful levels of toxins which can be either just as bad for you or even more harmful than smoke from tobacco-based shisha and cigarettes.

Shisha and the law

The law classes shisha smoking the same as cigarette smoking.

Having a Premises License or Planning Permission in place to build a structure to use as a smoking shelter or shisha area, does not mean that the structure is compliant with smoke-free legislation. Find out more about how to make your business compliant.

Need help quitting smoking?

If you stop smoking, it will reduce your risk of serious illnesses such as heart disease or cancer. It will improve your breathing, appearance of your skin and teeth and save you some money. When you stop, it will also protect the health of those closest to you.

Contact LiveWell Greenwich to quit smoking today.

You can also text 'QUIT' to 60060 or call LiveWell Greenwich on 0800 470 4831 to be connected with a Stop Smoking Advisor.