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24 Jan 2014 - Greater Manchester's first 'healthy' shisha bar opens on the Curry Mile

A shisha bar owner is aiming to offer a 'healthy' way to smoke - by opening a venue which uses electronic pipes.

Love Vapour Lounge is believed to be Greater Manchester's first fully electronic shisha bar - using devices similar to electronic cigarettes.

Customers can choose a range of flavours to smoke and whether to have nicotine added - but only water vapour rather than tobacco smoke is produced.

Open on Wilmslow Road in the former Saki Bar venue, business owner Raluca Khajeh came up with the idea after E-cigs helped her give up smoking.

The mum-of-two and former beauty therapist, 32, said: "I used to be quite a heavy smoker but quit when I got pregnant.

"I really enjoy shisha so started to look into the alternatives.

"I understand that shisha is a cultural thing but I think young people can be educated about it.

"This way people can still have shisha but it can be healthier. I really hope people will give it a try."

Cafes using electronic devices recently opened in London and Edinburgh but 200-capacity Love Vapour Lounge is believed to be Greater Manchester's first.

Customer Zaki Jennings, a 22-year-old estate agent from Heaton Mersey in Stockport, said: "I play a lot of sports so this is healthier - and it doesn't make your clothes smell.

"With your eyes closed you can't tell the difference."

Because no tobacco smoke or burning coals are used, the bar does not need to follow the same smoking legislation or fire regulations imposed on traditional shisha bars.

Council and customs officers and fire officials have mounted regular inspections of traditional shisha bars in Rusholme over concerns of illegally imported tobacco, lack of ventilation and fire hazards since the bars exploded in popularity along the Curry Mile.

Rusholme councillor Rabnawaz Akbar said: "We have always said we will work with businesses who are willing to work within the regulations.

"One of the arguments in the past has been that shisha's a social thing and a middle eastern tradition.

"If this business is all above board and allows people to enjoy that social and traditional element without nicotine and without the fire risk then that's great."