Hookah bars to be banned in Maharashtra

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Facts

Three months after a devastating fire at Kamala Mills compound killed 14 people, the Maharashtra government on 27th March introduced a bill to ban hookah parlors in the state. Violators of the law will be punished with imprisonment for a term of one to three years and fine of Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh. Three months after the Kamala Mills fire, the state has introduced a bill to ban hookah. On 27th March, the government proposed to amend the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply, and Distribution) Act, 2003 (COTPA)’s application in Maharashtra

The bill has been brought after it was found that there was no law to regulate or ban hookah parlors in the state.

It has been observed that hookah bars have mushroomed on a large scale across the state, particularly Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Pune, and Nagpur.

These bars are being run in public places as well as in restaurants. Minor children and college students are attracted to these hookah parlors.

The bill states:

“At present, there is no law to take legal action against these bars. The government considers to include hookah bars with an amendment to Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition and Distribution) Act, 2003”

The bill further mentions that: “No person shall, either on his own or on behalf of any other person, open or run any hookah bar in any place including the eating house”.

The bill also states that police will have the power to seize any material or article used as a subject or means of the hookah bar.

An official from the home department said that the act has been drafted based on the Gujarat act.

In 2017, Gujarat amended the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003 to ban hookah parlors in the state. Gujarat also has a complete ban on liquor. There are around 130 hookah parlors in Mumbai, which are facing opposition from a section of the society.

The December 29, 2017, fire at Kamala Mills was caused due to embers of hookah being served and claimed 14 lives.

The bill proposes a minimum imprisonment of one year extending up to three years if anyone is found running hookah parlors. The fine will be a minimum of Rs 50,000 and maximum Rs 1 lakh, it states.

“No person shall, either on his own or on behalf of any other person, open or run any hookah bar in any place including the eating house,” state the Bill. The proposed law allows any police officer of the rank of assistant inspector or above “to seize any material or article used as a subject or means of hookah bar”.

Justifying the amendment, the government has said hookah bars have mushroomed in Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur and other cities and are being run in public places as well as in restaurants.

Minors and collegian are attracted to these bars. At present, there is no law in respect to hookah bars, therefore, no legal action can be taken. It is, therefore, necessary to regulate hookah bars by law” reads the statement of objects and reasons.

Judgment

After COTPA is amended, an eating house will have to be defined as per the Maharashtra Police Act. This means a place where public are admitted, and where any kind of food or drink is supplied for consumption on the premises by any person owning or having an interest in or managing such place, and includes a refreshment room, boarding house, coffee house or a shop where any kind of food or drink is supplied to the public for consumption in or near such shop but does not include “a place of public entertainment”. Justifying the amendment, the government has said hookah bars have mushroomed in Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur and other cities and are being run in public places as well as in restaurants.

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