Shabana's campaign to improve the lot of residents living near to shisha bars took a step forward this week with a successful round table of residents, the police, academics, cllrs, and officers. There was widespread agreement that a new regulatory approach was required, which Shabana will now pursue int he House of Commons. The Council representatives also agreed to put together a formal strategy which will include a much needed overview an approach to deal with the damaging health risks that shisha poses.
The agenda for the meeting which gives a useful overview is below.
Background: Shabana was approached by residents of Highgate in 2016 about the problems caused by a local shisha bar in a residential area. After investigation of the issue including meetings with members of the council the following became clear:
1) The number of shisha bars is growing rapidly in number in Birmingham
2) Often these bars are not in traditional entertainment sections of the city
3) A robust regulatory regime does not exist; those trying to regulate the activities of shisha bars have to rely on legislation intended for other activities
4) Local residents who live around these bars are often negatively affected
5) Birmingham is not the only place experiencing this proliferation
6) The serious health impact of smoking shisha is not well understood
Shabana would like to explore how we work together to tackle this issue. She would be interested on an update on what approach is currently being taken by local agencies and to explore what steps could be taken including whether there is a requirement for a legislative approach.
The following options for change which could be considered collectively or independently.
A new licencing regime which provides for Local Authorities to licence shisha premises to operate in their area. It would be illegal for premises to operate as a shisha premises unless licenced. The aim of a licensing regime would be to reducing detrimental impact on local communities; provisions that fire safety are met; Smoke free compliance is assured; raising hygiene standards; safeguarding policies to restrict under 18yrs admission and a sanctions regime where non-compliance cannot be attained.
There are three possibilities for licenses:
Shisha activities become a licensable activity under the Licensing Act 2003 (though smoke free; fire safety, planning and hygiene standards may not be able to be covered).
(A) above, plus additional controls under an amendment of the Local Government (Miscellaneous provisions ) Act 1982 for those activities not covered by the Licensing Act 2003 (smoke free; fire safety, planning and hygiene standards).
An amendment to the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 to control shisha premises. This would be an adoptive piece of legislation and gives flexibility for the Local Authorities to set local controls to deal with the issues the local authority faces.
Strengthen the current provisions of the Health Act 2006 (Smoke free regulations 2007) by the introduction of notice provisions – improvement notices to ensure smoking shelters comply and prohibition notices to close premises where there is deemed an imminent risk to health; increase the level of the current fine and in addition, redefine the definition of smoking shelters under The Smoke-free (Premises and Enforcement) Regulations 2006, Reg 2, so that loop holes currently found are closed. Such loop holes are creating almost enclosed structures.
Agreement for an interpretation of the Local Government Declaration on Tobacco Local Authorities with Public Health duties should have policies in place so that Council owned premises are not allowed planning permission for nor allow licences for businesses that have the business model of gaining monies from people smoking on their premises
A local authority strategy
Westminster Council have also seen a proliferation of shisha bars from 60 premises in 2010 to 132 in 2014. They have recently undertaken a consultation “Reducing the Harm of Shisha” which outlines a detailed strategy for dealing with the issue.