Millennium Post

‘We want to put an end to hookah bars, too’

‘We want to put an end  to hookah bars, too’
Opposing the mushrooming growth of hookah bars in restaurants, the city government told the Delhi high court on Monday that youngsters are getting attracted to these bars and it may affect their health.

Appearing for Delhi government, Advocate Najmi Waziri told the bench of Chief Justice D Murugesan and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw that ‘state government has expressed its concern over hookah bars where youngsters are going and which may adversely affect their health.’

He said in most of these bars or lounges there is no separate smoking zone and that would effect the health of youngsters.

The government also told the court that ‘MCD officials should go and see whether restaurants are following the terms of the licence given to them or not.’

The court was hearing a plea filed by NGO World Lung Foundation, South Asia though its president G R Khatri, seeking ‘effective’ implementation of anti-smoking laws at public places and preventing restaurants from running ‘hookah’ bars and action against them.

MCD too supported the plea and informed the court that the agency is mulling action against restaurants running illegal hookah bars.

‘Licences are issued to restaurants not to run hookah bars but to serve food only, and if they (restaurants) are running hookah bars, it is not permissible,’ MCD lawyer said.

After hearing the arguments, the court observed that ‘if there is any violation of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act (COTPA) by the restaurants, civic agency need to taken action against them.’

Appearing for the National Restaurant Association of India, advocate Lalit Bhasin opposed the banning of hookah bars saying the restaurants are not in breach of COTPA Act, and ‘punitive action has to be taken against any person or party which is in breach of the Act.’

The counsel further told the court that ‘as per COTPA provisions and Smoke Free Rules, tobacco hookahs are permitted only in specific designated exclusive areas where tobacco products like cigarettes and tobacco hookahs to be used, so there is no breach of law if tobacco hookahs are allowed in the areas specified for this purpose.’

‘With regards to herbal or flavoured hookahs there can not be any legal or legitimate restriction for the use of the same in the main restaurant area since there is no tobacco or nicotine content in the same,’ the lawyer argued.

After hearing the parties, the court allowed the PIL that alleged some restaurant owners, who have obtained licence only to serve foods in their eating joints, have been running hookah bars which violated the licence conditions under the MCD and the NDMC Act.

The bench, however, said it would pass its detailed order later.
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