Wembley shisa bar owner fails in appeal against smoking ban breach conviction

Gurjot Patwalia argued his shisha bar was like a humidor room (stock image)

Gurjot Patwalia argued his shisha bar was like a humidor room (stock image) - Credit: Archant

Gurjot Patwalia argued Maida Vale business was a ‘humidor room’

A Wembley man has had his attempt to flout the smoking ban in his shisha bar thrown out by the courts.

Gurjot Patwalia tried to use a loophole in the law exempting specialist tobacconists from indoor smoking by claiming customers were only ‘sampling products’ in his bar in Maida Vale.

The 30-year-old had taken his case to Westminster Magistrates Court after he was found guilty of not preventing smoking in a smoke-free place between April and June last year.

He was fined £300 per offence, totalling £1,200 for persistently allowing customers to use Shisha Pipes indoors after he was prosecuted by Westminster City Council.

On Friday, he had tried to get the conviction overturned arguing that his premises should be treated in the same way as a humidor room – a special room with constant humidity which is used to store cigars, cigarettes, or tobacco.

He said that smokers had only been testing the shisha prior to making a purchase.

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However his argument was dismissed.

In addition to the fine, Patwalia was ordered to pay the council £3,919 costs and a victim surcharge of £15.

Had the challenge been accepted it would have had far reaching implications for the UK’s smoking ban.

Cllr Audrey Lewis, Licensing Chairman and Member for Bryanston and Dorset Square, said exemptions to the smoking ban are few and far between.

She said: “This was a surprising move which, if it had been allowed to succeed, could have paved the way for an end to the current smoking ban.

“This isn’t the first prosecution we’ve had against premises that have allowed shisha to be smoked indoors.

“We are relieved that the magistrate saw this for what it was and dismissed the defence’s argument.”