Inspections will be stepped up at a popular recreation spot where some cafés are allegedly offering sheesha without a permit.
While 29 outlets at Amwaj Lagoon do have licences to provide the traditional tobacco pipes, Muharraq Municipal Council chairman Mohammed Al Sinan claimed double that number were selling them.
He revealed a team of inspectors had now been charged with monitoring the location, which he dubbed “Sheesha City”.
Inspectors representing the ministries of Works, Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs, Health, Interior and Industry, Commerce and Tourism would take action against those violating their permits from this week.
“There are requests for new sheesha cafés and restaurants to open in Amwaj Lagoon, but as agreed with management no new permits will be given,” said Mr Al Sinan.
“I can understand Bahrain needs to attract tourists, but the Lagoon should be called Sheesha City – nothing else is served there.
“A few outlets are smoke-free, but with several putting chairs outside – in violation of health and municipal rules – people walk in clouds of smoke, as smokers puff furiously.
“The venue continues to have health and social events during the weekends, but the place is polluted with smoke from around 60 outlets – half of which are not licensed to serve sheesha.”
He claimed the council had received several complaints from families about smoking-related violations.
Mr Al Sinan also alleged that underage smoking was not uncommon and revealed surprise inspections were on the way, mainly at night when it gets busy.
“Several underage students are being taken there by their drivers to smoke sheesha in broad daylight, while several parents have toddlers in their laps as they smoke,” said Mr Al Sinan.
He also claimed some venues were breaking rules on loud music.
“A non-smoking couple or family trying to enter a restaurant to eat is faced by groups of people puffing in their faces, even though it is not allowed for people to sit outside,” he said.
“There are separate spaces within the outlet for smokers and non-smokers.
“There is also no respect for the concept of noise pollution with several cafés having loud music.”
Any outlets caught violating rules on sheesha sales could face temporary closure.
“Administrative powers allow temporary closure and a month of being shut down will teach them to abide by the law,” said Mr Al Sinan.
He also urged members of the public to report any outlets that break the rules.
“Sudden inspections will be regular and hit violators at any time,” he said. “It will be hard (for cafés) to swallow.”