A new business could go up in smoke when a ban on puffing in public places is introduced.

West Croydon's Hardjazz Cafe opened in Derby Road three months ago. As well as coffee and snacks customers and commuters can also smoke a shisha.

The shisha - a large, middle-eastern pipe used to smoke tobacco soaked in fruit shavings - is a centuries-old tradition which is now under threat by the planned smoking ban.

Hardjazz owner Ajazz Mir said his pipes are popular in Croydon, particularly among young Asian students. But in just over two months on July 1, the cafe will have to turn its customers away.

Mr Mir said shisha smoking is more popular than the coffee he sells and accounts for 50 per cent of his business.

"The young students love it," he added, "For them it is a social thing and a facility they can use in the afternoon. Many are not old enough to drink so this is why they enjoy it here. They enjoy the social aspect of it."

Mr Mir, who lives in Thornton Heath and runs other businesses, said the cafe was taking about £100 a day - £50 of which comes from shisha pipes.

"Without the smoking it is going to be difficult for us, but there's nothing we can do. I am a smoker and I think there should be some choice but then again, how do we argue the law?" he said.

He added: "I'm going to have to reconsider my options. Because we have the open space at the back, I'm not sure whether we will be able to serve the shisha there. We are at the mercy of the law but if there is any leeway we will try and exploit it."

The Arab smoking tradition is best known in this country in north London's Edgware Road, where many cafes are reportedly facing closure.

Mr Mir added: "I asked people in Edgware Road and they seemed to think they may be able to serve the shisha outside but we just don't know. There's so much awareness of the law coming in but no one seems sure as to how it is going to work. We will abide by the law because we can't be different."

A spokesman for Croydon Council said there were plans for two enforcement officers and a stop smoking adviser to be recruited to help businesses affected by the ban.

After it comes into force, the council will visit premises. The spokesman added: "We expect the majority will comply and we will only need to take enforcement action on rare occasions."

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