Hookah bars have been permanently banned in Punjab as President Ram Nath Kovind has given his assent to a bill from the state to check use of tobacco.
Punjab is the third state in the country after Gujarat and Maharashtra where hookah bars or lounges were banned through law.
The president has given assent to the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2018 recently, a Home Ministry official said.
The Punjab assembly had passed the Bill in March.
The objective of bringing the law is to check the use of tobacco in various forms and prevent diseases caused by the use of the tobacco products.
Hookah bars are establishments where people share ‘sheesha’ from a ‘hookah’ which is placed at each table or a bar.
The hookah has a long pipe for smoking that passes smoke through a container of water to cool it.
There were complaints of use of drugs in these bars in Punjab, an official said.
The official said as per available data, an hour’s average of hookah smoking contains 20-200 puffs, which can deliver 50 litres of smoke, containing harmful and carcinogenic chemicals.
Smoking of hookah increases health risks includes exposure to toxic chemicals that are not filtered out by the water, and also the risk of infectious disease like tuberculosis resulting from sharing a hookah, another official said.
Punjab Health Minister Brahm Mohindra, who had moved the Bill in the assembly, had said there was a new trend of ‘hookah-sheesha’ smoking and it has been increasing day-by-day in Punjab.
These bars are being opened in restaurants, hotels, and clubs and hookahs are even served at marriages venues.
The youth, including girls, are using hard and soft drugs in hookah and ‘sheesha’ bars, Mr Mohindra had said.
“Hookah/sheesha bars are just like drug consumption rooms and they are a new threat to our youth. The owners of such cafes are providing every facility to our youth for soft drug addiction in a very comfortable and friendly atmosphere.
“The most harmful ingredient in hookah is nicotine, which is known to be carcinogenic,” he had said.