New Delhi, Oct 31: The Delhi government on Tuesday said the licences of all hotels and restaurants with hookah bars would be cancelled as many of them have been found illegally providing tobacco to customers in the garb of herbal materials. Health Minister Satyendar Jain said hookah smoking was banned in non-smoking zones after the amendment to COTPA (Cigarette and other Tobacco Products Act) that prohibits smoking in public in May 2017.
The amendment, which prohibits serving food or beverages in designated smoking areas in hotels and restaurants, was approved after it was found that the law was being used by several restaurant owners to serve hookahs with non tobacco flavours along with lunch and dinner. “Recent notification of the government of India from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare completely prohibits use of hookah in the smoking zones also.
“Therefore, hookah bars in any form are illegal and Delhi Police and MCD (Municipal Corporation of Delhi) should cancel the licenses of such restaurants, eateries and hotels where such illegal hookah bars are operating.” The Minister said the State Tobacco Control Cell had conducted several raids in various parts of Delhi and taken samples of hookah flavours. He said chemical analysis of the samples showed “presence of nicotine in significant amount in almost all the samples though originally they were claimed to be herbal in nature”.
He said the city government had written a series of letters to Delhi Police and the civic body in the last four years to initiate action against these illegally running hookah bars and “save the younger generation from the harmful effects of tobacco”. Hookah smoking has become rampant in restaurants, eateries, hotels in metropolitan cities including Delhi and has become status symbols even in family functions.
“Unlike in earlier times where hookah was mostly used by the village elders, it has now gained popularity among the youth in today’s lifestyle. People consider hookah as a safe alternative to smoking without realizing that it is even more harmful and has an adverse impact on health,” the Health Minister said. “A number of hookah bars have been flourishing in Delhi flouting all anti-tobacco rules and laws.”