AN INTERNET café owner has become the first person in Harrow to face prosecution for allowing smoking in his premises.
Yousuf Mohammed Yousuf, the owner of the Wwabari Internet Café, in Station Road, will have to pay £3,000 after he was taken to court by Harrow Council.
Officers had spotted customers smoking there on three separate occasions.
Harrow Magistrates' Court heard on Wednesday last week that the first incident took place in May, when a police officer went to the café and noticed the smell of cigarette smoke.
When he went upstairs to the area where users take khat, a relaxant popular in the Somali community, the officer also spotted a man smoking a shisha pipe.
Two more visits were made in June by council officers and police, where they saw one man run away after being spotted smoking, a number of shisha pipes in the café and smelled the strong smell of smoke.
Yousuf, of Mint Close, Hillingdon, admitted three offences under the Health Act and was fined £2,320 and ordered to pay costs of £959.
The then manager of the café, Ahmed Omar Shariff, said he had put up no smoking signs in the premises after the introduction of the smoking ban in 2006, but claimed users ignored him.
It is the first time Harrow Council has brought a prosecution against a premises in the borough for breaching the smoking ban.
Councillor Susan Hall, who is responsible for overseeing the ban, said: "Until now we have dealt with smoking offences with warnings and fixed penalty notices.
"However, this breach was more serious as the owner was obviously allowing smoking on the premises, so flouting the law in a fairly flagrant way. Our residents tell us they want cleaner and safer streets and this action shows we are determined to deliver that."
In June this year Harrow Council was the first authority in London to call for more clarity in the law regarding the increasing popularity of Shisha bars.
While the 2006 laws are clear on the need for open shelters outside pubs in which smokers can stand, they did not take account of the tent-like awnings popularly used at the front of shisha bars.