After being rapped by the high court over the issue of hookah parlours mushrooming in the city, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has now swung into action and is planning to ban tobacco products in restaurants and eateries across the city.
The civic body is planning to incorporate a new clause of banning tobacco products such as cigarette and hookah while issuing the mandatory health licence to restaurants and eateries in the city.
The BMC has said that after they serve a show-cause notice to the hookah parlour, they prosecute the owners, but from now on they will suspend its licence.
The loopholes in the Smoking (Prohibition in Enclosed Public Places) Act, 2003, which allows smoking in separate rooms in eateries with seating capacity of more than 30 has allowed hookah joints to escape law.
“The new rule will be applicable to all restaurants, lodging boards and eateries in the city and it will come into force within a month,” said Dr GT Ambe, executive health officer, BMC.
Additional municipal commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar said, “We will incorporate a new clause in the licensed agreements of the restaurants under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), which will prohibit selling of hookah and other tobacco products at these places.”
Earlier last week, the Bombay high court had rapped the civic body for not doing enough to curb mushrooming of illegal hookah parlours in the city.
Hearing a public interest litigation filed by Crusade Against Tobacco, a division bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice Girish Godbole had directed the civic body to take tough action against hookah parlours, which are found violating the COPTA. The NGO had alleged that hookah parlours were selling tobacco products to minors. The court has asked the BMC to act within six weeks.
Even after implementing these steps, if any restaurant or eatery is found selling tobacco products, the civic body will revoke its licence, Mhaiskar added. Now, the BMC can only seize material from such places and not take action because provisions of the COTPA are not a part of the licence agreement.
According to the civic officials, the BMC has issued notices to 47 restaurants that are functioning as hookah parlours.