The proliferation of hookah bars in the city has not only become a source of concern to health officials, but also brought the legality of running such bars under a scanner.

While the police has received a letter from the Director General of Police, Bengaluru, to explore legal provisions prohibiting hookah bars after Vishal Rao U.S., a member of the High Level Committee on Tobacco Control for Government of Karnataka flagged the health hazards of using shisha, the Mysuru District Tobacco Control Cell wrote to the MCC Commissioner to issue notices to bars for violating Section 4 of COTPA that prohibits smoking in public places. Section 4 of Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003, provides for setting up a designated smoking area in hotels and restaurants that have a seating capacity of over 30. “Hookah is also a tobacco product and a separate area should be earmarked it. But, there is also a condition that no service of any kind can be provided in the designated area,” said Mr. Shivakumar, consultant, Mysuru District Tobacco Control Cell.

The issue was also discussed at a meeting in the presence of the Mysuru DC, who has instructed the MCC to issue notices to owners of bars and close them if they do not follow rules. The Cell has asked the MCC to cancel trade licenses if owners that fail to abide by the law while pointing out that COTPA 2003 also makes display of no smoking signage to be put up. Even though the MCC has issued licenses to only 12 hookah bars in the city, officials said many were operating without license. A special drive against the hookah bars has been planned.

It may be mentioned here that the issue relating to hookah bars cropped up during Home Minister Araga Jnanendra’s recent visit to Mysuru. Also, a letter sent by Additional Director General of Police, Benglauru, R. Hitendra, to the city police, by citing the concerns of Mr. Vishal Rao, refers not only to the ill-effects of using hookah, but also the possibility of spreading COVID-19 from its use.

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