UK Government

Tower Hamlets, London Borough of (London): Shisha usage down in Tower Hamlets

Press Release   •   Oct 01, 2010 12:31 BST

Shisha usage down in Tower Hamlets

Shisha cafes are on the decline thanks to the work of Tower Hamlets Tobacco Control Alliance.

The Alliance, which includes the council and NHS Tower Hamlets, has undertaken enforcement work to tackle establishments that allow shisha smoking, also known as hookah, hubble bubble or a water pipe.

This work, combined with activity to raise awareness of the health risks of smoking shisha, has resulted in the reduction of the number of shisha premises in the borough from 32 in April 2009 to nine in September 2010.

Smokefree legislation introduced in 2007 requires virtually all enclosed public places, workplaces and vehicles used by the public to be smoke free, and this includes shisha.

Kal Ifegwu, Principal Tobacco Control Officer at Tower Hamlets Council, says the advisory service underway provides new and existing owners with the necessary legal information.

Kal said: “For people looking to set up a shisha business, many are unaware of the Smokefree law. We are being pre-emptive by providing advice beforehand so they can determine whether opening up a new venture is viable or not.”

Owners that don’t comply with the law risk being charged up to £1000 for failure to display minimum no smoking signs and up to a £2500 maximum fine for failing to prevent smoking in a smokefree place.

Besides the legal issues, many people are unaware of the ill-health effects of shisha, because of its sweeteners and flavourings. Using a shisha pipe is just as harmful as smoking cigarettes, as it has tobacco in it.

And those most likely to use shisha are young people - a survey last year found that whilst shisha is used by only 2 per cent of the population on average, but by 6 per cent of respondents aged 16-24*.

These young people might not be aware of the risks to their health or the potential for a £50 fine if they are caught smoking shisha in an enclosed place.

Kal continued: “We are trying to be innovative in our approach towards young people. If we educate them from the onset, it is likely that less will start smoking shisha as freely as before once they are aware of the negative health and legal consequences.”

As part of this campaign to raise awareness, the Alliance has commissioned The Roy Castle Foundation to visit the London Metropolitan University.

Stalls will be run next week at the following locations in LMU:

·        Monday 4 October, entrance at Jewry St.  12-2pm

·        Wednesday 6 October, entrance at Goulston 12-2pm

·        Thursday 7 October, entrance to Calcutta House 12-2pm

More information and smoking facts can be found at


Notes to editors

Notes to editors:

For media enquiries, contact Kelly Powell, Tower Hamlets Council Communications on 020 7364 4390 or email

* Ipsos MORI Survey, August 2009


NDS Enquiries
Phone: For enquiries please contact the issuing dept