In 2007, there was a huge shift in the UK. On the 1st July, a law came into effect that made it illegal to smoke in all enclosed work places in England. This was a game-changer and it meant that pubs, clubs and shisha lounges could no longer allow people to smoke indoors.
Before this, many places voluntarily introduced bans as the public, quite rightly, wanted to go out an enjoy themselves without returning smelling of smoke. This shift was happening quite rapidly and pubs in particular were providing more than just beer. The rise of the ‘gastro-pub’ in the early 2000s was in part due to the change in attitudes of visitors.
Many saw this as a good move, and indeed, some pubs re-introduced smoking rooms, separating those who wanted to smoke, from those who didn’t.
But the ban changed all this.
Thousands of pubs and clubs have closed since then, and NASBOUK, the National Association of Shisha Bar Owners estimates that very quickly after the ban, 800 bars closed.
This has no-doubt held back the progress of shisha in the UK. Many people’s first experience of shisha is smoking it with friends in a bar, and then deciding to buy their own. If people aren’t going out and enjoying what is a totally legal pastime, simply because it’s uncomfortable (smoking outside most of the time can be cold in the UK!), they probably won’t buy one for home use.
But maybe that’s about to change?
E-cigarettes are on the rise, more people than ever are finding that they’re a great way to smoke, without breaking any laws. Maybe this could be the saviour of the shisha?
Although e-shisha sales are fairly low at the moment and, at least at home, people prefer to smoke a ‘proper’ hookah, with advances in technology it can’t be long before shisha pipes, and the social enjoyment that goes with them, can find their ways into lounges.
Lounges are where people socialise, enjoy shisha and then discover how great it can be. If they can begin to do this, even with e-shisha, maybe, just maybe, they’ll be tempted to enjoy the “real stuff” at home!