Hookahs will no longer be served in dining areas: Govt
Hookahs will also have to be served in designated smoking room, where food or drinks would not be available, according to the new government notificationhealth Updated: May 29, 2017 16:18 IST
Hotels and restaurants will have to keep hookahs strictly away from the dining area, as per the a new government notification that comes to effect immediately.
The ministry of health’s notification issued on Tuesday ordered designated smoking spaces to be used for any smoking (including hookahs) where no restaurant services and children under 18 years would be allowed.
“This rule was amended purposely to curb hookah bars that have had been mushrooming all over and using loopholes in the law to turn smoking zones into service areas, which is illegal,” said Arun Kumar Jha, economic advisor, health ministry.
Hookahs are water pipes that are used to smoke specially made tobacco that comes in different flavours, such as apple, mint, cherry, chocolate, coconut, licorice, cappuccino, and watermelon.
According to the sources, the ministry’s amendment is aimed at use of hookahs as there have been complaints of certain restaurants and hotels serving hookahs inside the dining areas, calling them ‘herbal’ or ‘flavoured’ with no nicotine.
“It is a myth that hookah causes less harm than cigarette or bidi. In fact the smoke goes directly inside your lungs. All risks associated with cigarette or bidi also apply to hookah,” says Dr Vikas Maurya, head of pulmonology, Fortis, Shalimar Bagh.
Amendments were made to rule 4 (sub-rule 3) of the prohibition of smoking rules under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act.
“No Service shall be allowed in any smoking area or space provided for Smoking,” reads the notification.
“The owner, proprietor, manager, supervisor or in charge of the affairs of the hotel restaurant or airport, shall display a board at the entrance of the smoking area or spaces of minimum size of 60 x 30 cms with a white background and having the message in English and one Indian language as applicable in black colour that – “Tobacco Smoking is Harmful To Your Health and The Health of Non-Smokers” and “Entry of Person Below The Age of Eighteen Years Is Prohibited.”
The law permits smoking in airports, hotels having more than 30 rooms, restaurants having a seating capacity of more than 30 and other enclosed places that have designated smoking areas or spaces.
For this a smoking zone has to be set up which should be physically separated and surrounded by full-height walls; should have a system that lets the smoke go directly outside; should have an entrance with automatically closing doors; should not be used for other purposes like serving food, beverage or other services.
The fine for violating these provisions is ₹200.
Tobacco related diseases kill about 10 lakh Indians each year. An estimated 5500 youth and children initiate tobacco use daily that underlines the importance of measures needed to curb tobacco use in the country.