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Keep children out says Blackburn shisha bar boss
1:23pm Tuesday 12th March 2013 in News
THE manager of a Blackburn shisha bar has criticised proprietors who allow under-age youngsters to frequent their cafes.
Last week police revealed they regularly escorted 13 to 16-year-olds home from the Sahara shisha lounge in the town centre.
The bar is not breaking the law as it is legal for youngsters to be in the cafe as long as they are not buying or smoking tobacco.
But police said they had taken the children home because they were concerned about their welfare.
Officers, during an operation to check on the town’s shisha bars, said they did not want to drive well-run establishments underground.
Ozayr, who runs The Cube in Darwen Street, said: “It’s terrible that some places let young kids in. It gives the rest of us a bad name.
“We have bouncers here on the weekend, to give us extra eyes in making sure the kids are over 18, and that there’s no trouble and everyone can have a good time.
“I don’t know why young kids would want to be in here. When I was that age I spent my time kicking a ball around. I didn’t smoke until I was 18.
“In Dubai and other places in the Middle East, shisha bars are a family place. People go there to gossip and catch up, kids and parents together.
“Over here, shishas are a place where people can gather in a safe place, off the streets, socialise, and have a smoke.
“For us in the Asian community, we don’t drink, so we don’t go to pubs, but we want somewhere to meet our mates in the evening that isn’t on the streets.”
However Coun Parwaiz Akhtar believes shisha bars should be much more tightly regulated. He said: “People seem to forget how bad shisha is for your health.
“Companies shouldn’t be able to make a living from people smoking heavily under their roofs.” Steve Finley, town centre community beat manager of Blackburn police, said: “I’ve spoken to pharmacists, midwives, and teachers who like to socialise at The Cube and in other shisha bars.
“The ones which are well managed and above board are safe and friendly places.Here and elsewhere, we check them over, like we might do a pub, and their doors are open, they have nothing to hide.
“What we don’t want to do is push these sorts of places underground.
“Because when everything’s going on behind lock and key, that’s when mischief can happen.”