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Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said that hookah smoking was not allowed in either non-smoking or even smoking zones in the national capital. Jain has said Delhi Police and municipal corporations should immediately cancel the licences of restaurants or eateries having hookah bars. “The minister has made it clear that hookah smoking is not allowed in non smoking zone as per section 4 of Cigarette & other Tobacco Products Act ,” the government said in a statement.
It said that a recent notification of the Indian government dated May 23, 2017, from Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, completely prohibits use of hookah in the smoking zones also. The government stated that as per the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an hour-long hookah session comprises 200 puffs compared to 30 puffs in a cigarette, but a number of hookah bars have been “flourishing” flouting anti– tobacco rules and laws.
The government said the state tobacco control cell has conducted several raids in various parts of the city. “Chemical analysis of picked up samples have shown presence of nicotine in significant amount in almost all the samples though originally they were claimed to be herbal in nature,” the statement said.
The youth has a popular perception is that the water in the hookah equipment absorbs the toxins from the tobacco smoke, and it is a safer alternative to smoking. However, medical reports have said that cigarette users typically smoke a cigarette for 5-7 minutes, taking 8-12 puffs of 40-75 ml each. Whereas, a hookah session lasts 30-80 minutes and a hookah smoker inhales almost one litre of smoke, which is equivalent to the smoke of 100 or more cigarettes. This smoke contains high levels of toxic compounds, including tar, carbon monoxide, heavy metals and cancer-causing chemicals, said a doctor.
Dr. S K Arora, who heads the Delhi State Tobacco Control Cell, said hookah smoking is rampant and is growing among the youth as an alternative to smoking. “The culture of hookah was mostly popular among the elders of the village and royal families in the history, but unfortunately has now become status symbol even in family functions,” he said.
Dr. Arora said they have complained to the local Police and civic bodies several times in the past few years for taking action against illegally hookah bars but violations are still going on.