Karnataka to come up with law to regulate hookah bars

During question hour in the assembly, Parameshwara admitted that hookah bars are affecting people, particularly the youth, yet nothing can be done about them.
Image used for representational purpose only. (Photo | Wikimedia commons)
Image used for representational purpose only. (Photo | Wikimedia commons)

BELAGAVI:  Home Minister G Parameshwara said the State government will formulate a special law to regulate hookah bars within BBMP limits.

During question hour in the assembly, Parameshwara admitted that hookah bars are affecting people, particularly the youth, yet nothing can be done about them. “BBMP has no power to grant a licence to operate hookah bars. We tried to control them earlier too, but could not. The food safety department permits them to operate. A court order says hookah bars don’t need any licence. According to the courts, the operators must have separate chambers in their premises where hookah can be used,” he said.

Jayanagar MLA Ramamurthy pointed out that the number of hookah bars is increasing. “They are mushrooming in BBMP limits. We don’t understand who gave them the licence and how they got it,” he said. He also recalled a recent incident where a cylinder exploded in a hookah bar. 

Parameshwara stated that he is aware of the fire accident, and said the government will bring in a law to prevent such incidents. Rajajinagar BJP MLA Suresh Kumar joined the chorus, stating that hookah bars are becoming a menace in the city. “Ten states, including Punjab, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat, have banned hookah bars.

There is a big responsibility on the state government to curb this. Speak to the health and other departments and ban them,” he said. “Though they claim they use only flavours and there is no tobacco in it, I have read that this is 200 times more dangerous than cigarettes,” he said.

BJP MLA Aravind Bellad said hookah bars should be shut before Karnataka becomes worse than Punjab, where every teenager is said to be on drugs. Ramamurthy said the home minister should do something before the city becomes ‘Udta Bengaluru’.

To this, Parameshwar took a dig at the BJP, saying, “For four years, you did not do much about it. But I am not defending myself. Smoking is indeed injurious to health and we will ensure it is banned.”
 

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