From The Gazette

Ste. Anne de Bellevue

Ste-Anne shisha café denied liquor licence

  • Arif Ismael of Le Café Barcode says he offers 30 flavours of fruit-based molasses to be smoked using a water pipe.
    Arif Ismael of Le Café Barcode says he offers 30 flavours of fruit-based molasses to be smoked using a water pipe.
    Photo credit: John Mahoney, Gazette files

Quebec’s liquor control board has denied a licence to a Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue café that has offered water-pipe smoking since opening six months ago.

Le Café Barcode, which opened for business in late May and began offering non-tobacco shisha on its premises in the evenings, had its application for a liquor licence denied by the Régie des alcohols, des courses et des jeux.

The ruling to deny the permit, which is required to sell any alcohol products, was based on the café offering water-pipe smoking on its premises.

When contacted last week, café co-owner Arif Ismael declined to comment on the recent liquor control board ruling, and on whether he would consider pulling shisha from the menu.

During a hearing before the board, Ismael stated the Barcode offers 30 flavours of fruit-based molasses to be smoked through a water pipe. He added that its shisha, which is sold as a digestive, is tobacco-free and contains no nicotine.

Eric Leclerc, an inspector for Quebec’s Health and Social Services Ministry who provided testimony at the café’s liquor permit hearing, pointed out non-tobacco shisha was added to the prohibited products list under Quebec’s Tobacco Act in 2008. In his opinion, shisha is an attempt to circumvent the smoking law.

Under Quebec’s Tobacco Act, about 30 cafés and restaurants were handed a grandfather clause to allow indoor cigar or pipe (but not cigarette) tobacco smoking before new rules came into force in 2008. It is now impossible to make an application for a new smoking exemption or even to move a facility that had been granted one.

Although the liquor control board is not responsible for tobacco or enforcing smoking regulations, it ruled that, in the public’s best interest, it would deny a liquor sales licence to the café on Ste-Anne St.

In establishments that had obtained a smoking exemption, they are prohibited from selling food in the same area, and these lounges must also be closed to minors, the board noted in its decision.

“Both prohibitions are obviously incompatible with the operation of a restaurant permit,” the board commissioners stated.

“The board cannot condone illegal activity, and it would be illogical and contrary to the law as well as the intention of the legislature to allow any smoking whatsoever in public places and, more so, in establishments where food is served to the public and in the presence of minors.

“In such circumstances, the interest of a holder of a liquor licence cannot exceed the interest of public health,” it concluded.

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