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To ban hookah or not?

The recent ban on serving hookah in Gurgaon bars by the Haryana Government has sparked off a debate across the city.

health and fitness Updated: Dec 04, 2011 01:41 IST
Chetna Dua

The recent ban on serving hookah in Gurgaon bars by the Haryana Government has sparked off a debate across the city. While health experts feel that any move to curb youngsters from consuming nicotine is positive, pub owners feel the ban is unnecessary, specially since youngsters are free to buy cigarettes anyway.

“Most of the samples collected show presence of nicotine beyond permissible limits. The Food and Drug Authority has been taking samples, but that takes a lot of time. That is why the ban has been put in place with immediate effect,” says P.C. Meena, district magistrate, Gurgaon.

“Hookah can lead to a lot of health problems like cancer in the lungs or throat, bronchial asthma, bronchial or nasal allergy and hypertension,” says Dr. Ravinder Gehra, ENT Surgeon, Max and Artemis Hospital, Gurgaon.

“It is sad that the hookah is served in restaurants and bars where young people try it under the impression that it’s not harmful and then get addicted. Any dose of nicotine is bad for the health. I am glad that the government of Haryana has taken this step and hope it is followed in Delhi and other cities as well,” says Dr. Bhawna Sirohi, head, medical oncology at Artemis Health Institute, Gurgaon.

However, there are many who do not agree with the ban. “They should ban cigarettes, which are much more harmful than hookah,” says Ashish Dhoundhiyal of La Cabana, a lounge bar in Gurgaon. “The government should check and close only those bars which cross the prescribed health limits,” says Karttikey Kumar, owner of Lighthouse Protein, a terrace Lounge bar in Saket.

“Hookah is a healthier alternative to cigarettes. It stops most people from smoking tobacco, so I don’t know why the government is banning them,” says Sunit Jain, a research analyst in the city.

What is a hookah?
Hookah originated in India, after which, it travelled to Iran, Turkey, and Egypt. The hookah lounge has antecedents in the tradition of coffee houses in the Middle East and Turkey where people smoke tobacco from hookahs or other styles of water pipes provided by the establishment.

Will the ban get bigger?
Hookahs have been banned in Gurgaon by District Magistrate P.C. Meena from November 28 under Section 144. A day after the Gurgaon ban was announced, the police in Panchkula also implemented the ban. Other cities are also considering a similar ban, but nothing is confirmed yet.