While the state health minister may be highlighting the harmful effects of hookah to the general public, he may have to do some convincing at home.
While conducting a surprise check at Zaza restaurant, Bandra Reclamation, at 11 pm on Monday, Social Service (SS) branch of Mumbai police found a hookah bar operating out of the establishment. Among the patrons rounded up was allegedly state health minister Suresh Shetty’s son Kshitij.
While Kshitij and 20 other customers were let off after paying a fine, the restaurant owner was booked for running a hookah parlour in a public place.
Last year, Bombay High Court had upheld a move by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to ban the sale of hookah or any other tobacco products at restaurants and pubs.
Smoke without fire?
Though none of the officials were willing to come on record to confirm that the minister’s son was caught in the police raid, an officer from Bandra police station affirmed that they booked a person named Kshitij S Shetty.
The officer also added that Kshitij has registered his address as Gokulnandanvan Society on Mahakali Caves Road at Andheri (E), where the minister lives with his family.
The situation appears even more fascinating because on Monday itself, state home minister RR Patil had said that the city’s hookah parlours would soon go the dance bar way, once the government examines the legalities and brings in a comprehensive ban before the end of the monsoon session of legislature later this year.
Protecting the youth!
Sharing several legislators’ concern about how hookah joints have captured the imagination of the youth, Patil said, “We will not allow hookah to corrupt our young generation.
There have been numerous complaints from parents and teachers alike about how the youth is getting addicted to hookah.” The minister was replying to a prolonged discussion on the budgetary demands of the home department.
“The problem with the current rule against hookah parlours is that the penalty when an eatery is found to be serving hookahs is Rs 1,200. We’ve found that these establishments simply keep the Rs 1,200 ready during raids,” the minister had said.
Despite attempts, Suresh Shetty remained unavailable for comment. He also did not respond to an SMS sent by MiD DAY.
Caught in the act?
Recently, actor and ambassador for WHO’s anti-smoking drive Vivek Oberoi was booked under the Tobacco Act, when in another check last Wednesday night at city’s Mabrook restaurant, the SS branch found customers smoking hookah. The actor had, however, denied the charge.
Safe? Not quite
The average hookah session typically lasts more than 40 minutes, and consists of 50 to 200 inhalations that each range from 0.15 to 0.50 litres of smoke. In an hour-long smoking session of hookah, users consume about 100 to 200 times the volume of smoke of a single cigarette.
The chemical compositions of cigarette smoke and hookah smoke are different, however, as the workings of the charcoal in the modern hookah causes the tobacco mixture to be heated to a lower temperature, as opposed to the higher temperature in a cigarette where the tobacco is directly burnt. Subsequently, the health effects of hookah smoke are expected to be very different.
Despite a different chemical composition of smoke, it is expected that heavy and long term use still has the potential to lead to diseases generally induced by tobacco, notably chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.