The art of shisha is slowly seeping into the rigid culture of Europe, infusing it with an alluring exoticness that is undeniably enticing.
Shisha lounges are springing up all over the UK, with the number increasing every year. The demand for them is increasing and particularly among young adults. It’s becoming a popular social pastime and one that is different form just smoking a cigarette. It is something that you do with friends and family whereas the same cannot be envisioned over a fag.
The concept of shisha is thought to have originated in India during the Mughal rule (that’s roughly between the years 1526–1857) and lounges were designed only for the wealthy. It was a matter of status and it is not uncommon to see shisha lounges in cafes in the Middle East. But now it is a reward for everybody. Just from 2000 to 2004, about 200 shisha lounges opened in the UK.
Many, and I admit, myself, have ventured to London’s Edgware Road because it is known for the many shisha spots, most of which appeared in the early 1980s. However, back then, it was almost controversial to be seen at these ‘notorious’ hangouts. Despite this, more recently, these spots are becoming increasingly popular, especially with students and tourists.
There is a reason for the sudden burst in the number of lounges and ironically, it is the smoking ban proposed in 2007. According to the British Heart Foundation, the indoor smoking ban has indirectly caused the growth of shisha bars in Britain.
In fact, statistics found by the British Heart Foundation show that there are around 600 bars now from the estimated 200 at the time of the ban.
Unfortunately, with increasing medical warnings over the dangers of shisha, the government is now looking to crackdown on the practice. Councils in Leicester for example, are considering setting a licensing requirement. All over the country, councils are trying to control the shisha trade more rigorously. This is due to the overall plan to cut down all type of smoking for health reasons.
No strict legislation has been enforced as of yet but what is certain is that clamping down on shisha will do some degree of damage to businesses and perhaps even the economy if prices are forced to go up. Either way, a new wave of bohemian youngsters and die-hard shisha lovers are keeping the lounges very much alive.