Croydon shisha bar owners fined thousands of pounds over indoor smoking breach

One of the Café Havana shisha bars in Norbury. Pic: Kake, Flickr

Two men responsible for three shisha bars across Croydon have been fined thousands of pounds and had more than 350 shisha pipes seized after being caught illegally allowing people to smoke them inside their premises.

Sohail Iftikhar, also known as Sohail Khan, is the owner of the Café Havana shisha bar chain and runs two of the cafés on London Road in Norbury alongside Yousef Afassi – who is jointly responsible for one of the cafés in Norbury. Iftikhar also runs a third Café Havana on George Street.

Iftikhar, 39, of Smitham Bottom Lane, Purley and Afassi, 54, of Waddon Road, Waddon both pleaded guilty to one count of breaching the Health Act 2006 at Camberwell Magistrates’ Court on 14 January, having failed to stop someone smoking in the smoke-free premises.

Shisha smoking is covered by the Smoke-Free (Premises and Enforcement) Regulation 2006, meaning that it is illegal to smoke the pipes inside public places.

Illegal indoor smoking at Cafe Havana has been an issue for quite some time.
Credit: Steve Thompson

Croydon Council officers and police officers told the court that they had visited the addresses between November 2018 and March 2019 and on each occasion found up to 15 people smoking inside the cafés, seizing the shisha pipes during the visits.

Iftikhar appeared at Croydon Magistrates Court again on 17 February and admitted to three additional charges of breaching the Health Act 2006 at the cafes. He was fined £4,500 and ordered to pay costs of over £14,000.

Appearing at Camberwell Magistrates’ Court on 14 January, Afassi was fined £1,350 and ordered to pay costs of just under £5,500 and a £135 victim surcharge.

The Café Havana chain could go up in smoke as Iftikhar has previously been convicted for seven counts of illegally smoking indoors at the cafés in 2017. He was fined over £8,500 by Croydon Magistrates’ Court.

Shisha is specially prepared tobacco with added flavourings through a water-filled vessel.

Whilst the water cools the smoke and makes it feel less harsh than cigarette smoke, the health risks associated with smoking shisha are just as harmful as smoking cigarettes – an hour in a shisha bar can see people inhale the same amount of toxins as smoking 100 cigarettes.

Councillor Hamida Ali, cabinet member for safer Croydon and communities said: “Smoking indoors is illegal, whether it is cigarettes or shisha, and we will do everything we can to protect the public from the risks linked to this. We will always look to take action against any premise that breaks the law to keep residents and visitors safe.”

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