New Delhi: Smokers latest fad — hookahs — will no longer be permitted in smoking zones at hotels, restaurants and airports.
The new smoking rules notified by the Union health ministry prohibits “services” in the smoking zones.
Also, hotels, restaurants and airports will have to mandatorily display a board outside the smoking zones mentioning in English and one Indian language in black colour that “tobacco smoking is harmful to health of both smokers and non-smokers and entry of anyone below the age of 18 is prohibited”.
Under the existing rules, smoking included tobacco in any form with the help of a pipe, wrapper, or any other instrument and hence the service providers could get away with the violation, a senior health ministry official said. To curb use of hookahs, the ministry tweaked the provision under the Prohibition of Smoking in Public Places Rules, 2008, under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, stating that “no service shall be allowed in any smoking area or space provided for smoking”.
Officials feel that the changes in the rules became imperative with smoking a hookah becoming latest trend among youngsters. “The earlier rules were exploited by many hotel and restaurant owners to offer hookah services. The new rule will fix the loophole and will regulate the use of hookahs which has become a latest fad among youngsters.
Those wanting to have hookah will have to bring their own hookah, lighters, etc.,” said a senior official in the health ministry.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has found hookah smoking equally injurious to health. In fact, second-hand smoke from hookahs can also be a major health risk for non-smokers. It contains smoke from the tobacco as well as smoke from the heat source (e.g. charcoal) used in the hookah.
Importantly, tobacco related diseases kills about 2,500 Indians daily and over 10 lakh Indians every year.
And it is estimated that about 5500 youth and children (as young as 8 years old), initiate tobacco use daily. The total direct and indirect cost of diseases attributable to tobacco use was a staggering Rupees 1.04 lakh crore ($17 billion) in 2011 or 1.16 per cent of India’s GDP.