Karnataka Assembly passes bill prohibiting hookah bars, use of tobacco products in public places


PTI, Feb 21, 2024, 8:21 PM IST

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The Karnataka Legislative Assembly on Wednesday passed a bill that prohibits hookah bars in the state, and carries a penal provision of imprisonment of one-to-three years and fines of up to Rs 1 lakh for violations.

The bill also prohibits the use of tobacco products in public places, and the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products near educational institutions and to persons below the age of 21 years.

The bill titled the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) (Karnataka Amendment) Bill, 2024, amends the central act of 2003 in its application to the state of Karnataka.

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 or pub or bar or restaurant by whatever name it is called, the bill said.

Hookah bar means “an establishment or place where people gather to smoke tobacco from a communal hookah or narghile, which is provided individually,” according to the text of the bill.

Piloting the bill for the consideration of the House, Health Minister Dinesh Gundu Rao said the main intention is to safeguard the health of citizens, especially the youth, and to stem the tide of tobacco-related diseases.

Youth today consider the hookah a “fashion statement or fashionable”, he said. “It not only affects those consuming it, but also people around — passive smokers.” The state government has already issued a notification prohibiting hookah bars, against which their owners have gone to the courts, he said. “Courts also have not given any stay, so if we bring amendments and make a law, there wont we any objections further,” minister said.

Noting that hookah bars have been opened at restaurants and bars, Rao said, “Considering that smoking cigarettes is harmful to health, it is already prohibited in public places. In the case of hookah, tobacco and nicotine are used along with other substances like narcotics, and to prohibit it this amendment has been brought.” Punishment for running hookah bars has newly been introduced in the bill, he said, adding that violators of section 4A will be imprisoned for a term between one and three years, and be fined an amount between Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh.

Further noting that the bill prohibits the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products to persons below the age of 21 years, the minister said, “As per law, it is 18 years, but we have now increased it to 21 years. It cannot be sold within the radius of 100 metres from educational institutions. The fine for violation has been increased to Rs 1,000 from Rs 200.” The bill that prohibits the use of tobacco products in public places, says no person shall use tobacco products in any public place, and “use” means and includes smoking and spitting of tobacco.

The exceptions are in a hotel having 30 rooms or a restaurant with a seating capacity of 30 persons or more, and in airports, where, the bill says, a separate provision for smoking area or space may be made.

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