Smoking ban death blow for water pipe bars

The extension to smoking ban that came into force on July 1 is a major blow for the dozens of Arab-style water pipe bars that have sprung up in big cities such as Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent. The proprietors of the so-called chicha bars had hoped to be spared from the new rules that ban smoking from all public bars. This is the case in a number of other European countries where smoking bans are in force.

The owner of the Palmyr chicha bar in Central Brussels told the Brussels regional news site Brusselnieuws.be that “It’s like asking a restaurant to stop serving food.”

"When we started up they assured us that the smoking ban wouldn’t come in until 2014. So we were very surprised when we heard that it would be brought in from 1 July 2011.“

Around 40 Brussels chicha bars have sought legal advice to try and fight a solution. The ban on smoking could well also spell the end for chicha bars.