Now let's be clear about this from the outset: setting fire to anything and then inhaling it is not a good idea. Doesn't matter what it is. But shishe smoking is more of a hobby than a habit (well, you try smoking 20 of those a day), a sociable pursuit enjoyed for centuries, and largely non-addictive. Fruit is fruit, right? Even if it is in tobacco, surely it still counts as one of your five a day?
Anyway, shishe cafes have gone out of business in droves since Nanny government's legislation came in: only those with outside areas have been able to continue. The situation wherein things not covered by legislation are automatically deemed BAD is not a healthy one, and many cafes are being fined simply because officials either don't understand what to do or lack discretion. The proprietors deserve a break, we reckon.
And, bizarrely, that's exactly what Harrow Council seems to be trying to do. They have called for clarification of the law governing these premises, which can only be a good thing. At the moment blanket health and safety hysteria automatically puts all smokers in the wrong, and it looks as if Harrow's applying a more common sense approach. Councillor Susan Hall says:
"We can then balance the right of customers to sit and enjoy the authentic shisha experience while continuing to deliver clean and safe streets."
A councillor talking about balance and consumer rights? Gosh, where did they get this councillor? Are there more like her? Can we have one?
London's most famous smoker, by Matt from London.