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Hookah bars resume business

delhi Updated: Nov 18, 2011 23:55 IST
Sanjeev K Ahuja
Sanjeev K Ahuja
Hindustan Times
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After few raids and collection of samples as part of an anti-nicotine drive, several hookah bars have resumed their businesses, offering customers nicotine-rich molasses tobacco.

The Haryana Food and Drugs Administration (HFDA) which expressed its inability in curbing such bars due to lack of an effective law, is now contemplating alternate measures to check the menace.

The HFDA has started seeking legal opinion and considering the measure taken by the neighbouring state Punjab, where police have sealed such hookah bars by declaring them as "public nuisance".

In October, the HFDA officials raided two hookah bars in DLF City and collected eight samples of Indian and imported molasses tobacco pouches. Still, the two bars as well as others are offering the same tobacco products to their customers. The officials had identified six more hookah bars in Gurgaon and raids were planned after Diwali, no action has been taken as yet.

"We have suspended our operation against hookah bars as we have no power other than collecting samples and sending the same to the department laboratories for testing. We cannot seal the bars as the Haryana Drugs and Cosmetic Act does not have any clause that allows us to take action against such activities," said Naripan Goyal, drugs inspector, Gurgaon.

Goyal said that some senior officials of the department were deliberating some alternate measures. According to sources, the HFDA can also urge the Haryana government to direct the police to seal such bars.

Officials said that the seized samples of molasses tobacco which contain 0.5% nicotine cannot be sold without a licence under the Haryana Drugs and Cosmetic Act.

The raids were conducted after the Punjab and Haryana high court directed the state government on the basis of a petition filed by an NGO that claimed that a number of hookah bars in Gurgaon were serving nicotine and molasses tobacco.

Molasses tobacco, which is mainly produced in Middle East countries, comes in different flavours of ginger, chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, lime and others.