After targeting smokers and tipplers, Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss has the hookah bars on his radar and asked the Maharashtra government to close them down as they were violating the law.
“Shops having hookah bars have to comply with the law of the land,” he said at the ‘Corporate Leaders meet on worksite wellnesss initiative’, a part of the World Congress on Tabacco or Health.
“It is illegal for hookah bars in whatever form they offer be it nicotine or tobacco,” he said.
India’s anti-tobacco law came into effect on October 2 last year and the rules mandate that all public places, including offices, restaurants, public institutions and work places, to go 100 per cent ‘smoke-free’.
“If the hookah bars are operating in the guise of coffee houses, then they should not be allowed and appropriate steps to be taken by the state government,” he said.
Ramadoss said he would also discuss the issue with civic officials to help prevent such illegal activities.
Ramadoss said with the help of corporate sector and educational institutions all efforts were on to reduce tobacco consumption.
The minister said that banning smoking in public places too was yielding results and its real impact would be known only after a year or so.
On having smoke-free policy as a prerequisite for bidding for tenders, he said: “If the companies do not have a smoke-free policy, they will not allowed to bid.”
“Our ultimate aim is to reduce the demand for tobacco and better health of people.”
“It is herculean task due to the pressure from the tobacco industry working directly or indirectly through ministers and politicians, parallel advertising and even funding scientists,” he said. He said for politicians and ministers, workers in tobacco industry are the vote-bank.
Corporate leaders from over 60 national and multi-national organisations on Monday came together to express solidarity with the government’s tobacco control efforts.