Almost three months after the tragic Kamala Mills fire incident, in which 14 people were killed, the Maharashtra government has introduced a bill to ban hookah parlours in the state. There are over 500 such parlours in Mumbai and Thane alone.
Following the Kamala Mills blaze, the Mumbai fire brigade had concluded that flying embers from charcoal used in illegal hookah at Mojo’s Bistro had led to the blaze. Post which, many citizens, activists, and politicians had sought a blanket ban on such parlours.
However, there was no law to regulate or ban hookah parlours in the state till date, due to which hundreds of such establishments started mushrooming in cities like Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Navi Mumbai, and Nagpur.
The government, on Tuesday, sought to regulate hookah parlours by amending the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition and Distribution) Act, 2003 (COTPA)
“At present, there is no law to take legal action against these bars. The government considers to include hookah bars with an amendment in Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition and Distribution) Act, 2003,” the bill reads.
The amendment will have to be passed by both the Houses of the legislature to become a law. While it’s almost certain that the amendment will be passed, it may take a few months for the actual implementation to begin.
The bill states that since such parlours run in public places, including restaurants, minors, and college-going students are attracted to them.
“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 bill’s statement of objects and reasons.
According to the bill, drafted on the lines of the one implemented by Gujarat, anyone found running hookah parlour can face a jail term of one to three years and a fine of Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh.
“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,” it adds. The amendment also makes the offence non-cognisable.
The bill defines hookah parlours as “establishments where people gather to smoke tobacco from a community hookah or a narghile provided individually.”
However, according to officials, it does not ban smoking hookah at home or at certain designated areas, where food or beverage would not be permitted, like cigarette smoking zones.
It further states that authorities will have the power to seize any material or article used in such an establishment.
Back in 2007, Gujarat had amended the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003 to ban hookah parlours in the state.
The BMC too had banned hookah parlours in the city in 2011. However, they started cropping back up after the decision was challenged in the apex court, which struck down the ban in 2014.
The development comes a week after Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, while replying to supplementary queries raised on a calling attention motion, had said that the state would soon bring a legislation to regulate and shut hookah parlours.View Realtime Updates