The government is against smoking cigarettes in public places because it has to spend huge amounts on treating tobacco-related ailments, but the recent Supreme Court verdict lifting ban on hookah smoking has put it in quandary.
The Supreme Court’s bench, headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi, in its judgment on Monday lifted the ban on facilitating smoking hookah and held that the law prohibiting ‘facilitation’ of hookah smoking in smoking zones as ultra-vires to the provisions of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COPTA or Cigarettes’ Act), 2003.
This means that hookah bars which provided the hookas for smoking to the customer and acted as ‘facilitators’ can open shop once again. The bar and café owners in the city are sensing huge potential and planning to get back in business at the earliest.
Like in other metro cities, the apex court’s verdict will have a huge impact on Indore too. Until the ban imposed by the district administration on facilitation of hookah smoking in 2011, the Indore city has had about 120 hookah parlours, small and big. And the fascination of smoking hookah among youngsters has only multiplied manifolds since then.
The Indore district administration has clamped section 144 of IPC against ‘facilitation of hookah smoking’ on more than 19 instances, ever since a TB patient died while puffing hookah in a parlour.
Ravindra Thakur, food & beverages manager at Sheesha Sky Lounge said, “It’s a welcome move by the court. We shall wait for further orders from district administration for starting afresh.”
Although there has been a ban on parlours for past three years, a few outlets continue to operate in disguise in the city. And at the same time a massive sale of hookah apparatus and flavours has been seen during last three years.
According to advocate Mitesh Jain, one can obtain the certified copy of court orders and start operating hookah parlours even without the consent of the district administration.