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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 February 2008, 18:47 GMT
Bar owner faces court over shisha
A woman smoking a shisha
Fruit-flavoured tobacco is drawn through a hookah
A restaurant owner campaigning for the right to serve shisha pipes on his premises has appeared in court accused of ignoring the smoking ban.

Shazeer Merali could face fines of more than 5,000 if Bingley magistrates find him guilty of two charges of allowing people to smoke in his premises.

Mr Merali owns the Markaz Restaurant and Shisha Lounge in Bradford.

He told the court he allows customers to smoke shisha pipes, because he would go out of business if he did not.

Shisha is an Arabic water-pipe in which fruit-scented tobacco is burnt using coal, passed through an ornate water vessel and inhaled through a hose.

'Judicial review'

Mr Merali, who is representing himself, claimed the law could be challenged because his campaign group, Save the Shisha, is seeking a judicial review of smoking legislation with the help of Bradford MP Marsha Singh.

The prosecution was brought by Bradford Council under the new laws which came into effect in July.

Richard Winter, prosecuting, said: "It isn't disputed by Mr Merali that smoking has taken place on the premises. But the court cannot create an exemption to the smoking legislation, which is in effect what he is asking it to do."

The magistrates heard that many traditional shisha lounges have gone out of business in Bradford since the smoking ban.

The case is due to continue on 7 March.

SEE ALSO
Fines issued to shisha customers
06 Aug 07 |  Manchester
Pipe dream
25 Jun 07 |  Magazine

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