The smoking ban that comes into force in July could drive Shisha Cafes out of business.

In Edgware Road London, where the cafes are hugely popular owners have begun a campaign for the popular Middle Eastern tobacco pipe to be exempt from the new legislation.

They are saying that the Shisha contains only small amounts of tobacco and is far less harmful than cigarettes.

However, the anti-smkoing charity Ash that says there is evidence to suggest Shisha smoke is just as harmful as cigarette smoke.

In the North West owners are unsure about what the smoking ban will mean for them.

Mohammed Jaber owns the Sahara Cafe based on Darwen Street in Blackburn. He was one of the first to open up such a cafe in the North West.

He told us, "People from all backgrounds come to our cafe to enjoy some middle-eastern culture.

"The whole experience is about smoking and when someone steps through that door they know that this is smoking area."

"I also feel we have been totally left in the dark concerning the legislation. We don't know exactly how it will effect us because neither the council nor for that matter anyone else has not told us anything."

Customers at the Sahara Cafe have been signing a petition hoping it will help the cafe to be exempt from the smoking ban.

One such customer was Umesh. He said, "What the government needs to understand is that Shisha cafes are more about a culture than anything else.

"Just like some people go to pubs others do not and wish to unwind at places like this."

Nasir, a regular at the Sahara Cafe said, "If people are paying their membership and coming here to relax -then what is the problem?"

The majority of Shisha cafes also serve authentic food and drink to customers.

Faisal Ali visits the Cafe at least twice a day. He said, "This ban could ruin someone's livelihood. Everyone calls Mr Jaber Uncle' here and unlike a pub there is never any trouble here or when customers leave the premises they do not end up fighting on the street!"

Jawad Butt of the Shesha Lounge, based on Cheetham Hill Road, Manchester has recently opened a plush, upmarket cafe.

He again feels there has been a lot of confusion when it comes to the ban. "I don't think the local councils know themselves exactly where we stand.

"If this ban affects Shisha Cafes then it will be denying people the opportunity to experience a culture."

The Shesha Lounge can hold over 100 people and includes plasma screens, leather suites and even a VIP room.

"We have put a lot of hard work and effort in opening this place and it would be a shame if we had to change things around."

It was a similar story at the Al-Ameera based on King Street Blackburn which has been open for just over a month. Owner Sameer Mohammed told us, "We are not exactly sure what will happen.

"Customers have mentioned it but we don't really have any literature coming telling us what to expect."

Despite the claims of business owners ASH, the anti-smoking pressure group says that new research suggests that the waterpipes have three additional potentially lethal risks over the risks of smoking cigarettes.

The charity says there is evidence to say that flavoured tobacco is smoked over coals and fumes from these fuels add new toxins to the already dangerous smoke and that Shisha smokers inhale up to 200 times more smoke in a single shisha session that they would from a cigarette.

Their claims were supported by leading experts on Shisha smoke.

Dr Alan Shidaheh of the American University in Beirut said, "Every recent study has found that shisha smoke contains large quantities of the chemicals that lead to heart disease, cancer, and addiction in cigarette smokers.".