When Environmental Health Officers from Middlesbrough Council visited The Lounge on Linthorpe Road in March this year they found staff preparing shisha pipes and customers smoking in an enclosed area of the premises.
Shisha, or water-pipes, are used to smoke a number of substances, mainly flavoured or non-flavoured tobacco or herbal mixtures.
The process involves burning charcoal and inhaling the mixture of the coal and tobacco smoke, drawn through a bowl of water and into a hose from which the user inhales through the mouth.
Under the Health Act 2006, smoking tobacco or anything which contains tobacco, or smoking any other substance, in an enclosed or substantially enclosed premises is an offence.
Head of Public Protection Judith Hedgley, Middlesbrough Council’s Head of Public Protection, said: “Smoking in enclosed places or in areas that are more than 50% enclosed, has been illegal for more than 10 years.
“The Lounge was designed in such a way that only a very small balcony could be legally used as a smoking area.
“The area where officers found shisha pipes being prepared by staff and served to customers was fully enclosed.
“The owner had previously received a written warning about smoking not being allowed in any part of the premises other than in the balcony area and he had ignored this warning.”
Lounge owner Mansoor Hussain, of Oxford Road, Middlesbrough, was charged with failing to prevent smoking in a smoke-free place and the offence was committed due to his neglect.
Appearing before Teesside Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, September 26 the 32-year-old was fined £200 and ordered to pay £686 in costs.
Councillor Julia Rostron, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health said: “Over the past decade, smoking rates and smoking-related hospital admissions have fallen significantly.
“This has been very much as a result of the introduction of the smoke-free laws which have protected public health.
“Environmental Health Officers check that the smokefree laws are being followed when they visit businesses in Middlesbrough.
“Anyone caught smoking in a smoke-free place or allows smoking in such places will be committing an offence and may be issued with a fixed penalty notice or prosecuted.”