A recent notification of Government of India GSR 500(E) dated May 23, 2017 under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003(COTPA), from Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, completely prohibits use of Hookah, even in the smoking zones. Several State Governments in addition to COTPA have also booked hookah bar owners under Section 268 (causing public nuisance) and 278 (making air noxious to health of Indian Penal Code. Recently, Health Minister, Delhi government Mr. Satyendar Jain has asked the Delhi Police and the Municipal Corporations to immediately cancel licenses of restaurants with hookah bars.
But the ground realities have not changed in Delhi and hookah bars are puffing off the ban in smoke as per the observational study conducted by MART in partnership with VOICE in October 2017. The research team visited 40 hookah bars in Delhi, identified on the basis of information from online portals and through dipstick survey.
Mr. Ashim Sanyal, Chief Operating Officer (COO), VOICE said “We welcome government decision to ban hookah bars in Delhi, but our survey shows, Hookah bars continue to operate, despite the restrictions. Generally, hookahs are seen to be used as accompaniments in bars and pubs and target the young adult population of the region. Also, it has been observed that such bars or pubs provide easy access to the student population. This needs to be stopped.”
Key Findings of the Hookah Bar Survey:
- Certain hookah bars were located near educational institutions and also in areas which had presence of students, youths. (as Rajdhani College, North Campus etc).
- In the bars located near educational institutions, the prices of hookah were much less than hookah bars in up-market location.
- None of the hookah bars had personnel checking the age of the customers.
- Minors were observed to be consuming hookah in 17% of the surveyed bars. Children from the age of 13 upwards were observed to be consuming hookah in these bars.
- The timings of visit by children and young adults in these bars coincided with them skipping school or visiting these places immediately after school/college.
- The COTPA Rules(Prohibition of Smoking in Public Places Rules, 2008, G.S.R 417(E), dated the 30th May, 2008 as amended vide G.S.R. No. 500(E) dated 23.05.2017), was not being complied with, as:
- Service of hookah, food, drinks etc was allowed in these bars.
- Some of the bars did not display the mandatory signage: “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”.
- These bars displayed hookah equipment inside the premises.
- Some of these Bars also had a separate Hookah Menu.