Hoteliers to move SC to save hookah bars

The hoteliers decided to appeal in the apex court after the Bombay High Court squashed an earlier appeal by upholding the BMC's circular of the ban

The recent High Court verdict banning hookah parlours has not gone down well with hoteliers in the city.

While the Bombay High Court's decision supports a circular issued by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), banning sale of hookah and other tobacco products in restaurants within city limits, hookah parlour owners are all set to knock the door of the Supreme Court, seeking an immediate removal of the ban.

The HC ban on hookah bars has meant hoteliers will lose a
significant number of patrons and revenue due to the ban

The High Court verdict passed on Wednesday states that all civic bodies across Maharashtra should incorporate provisions of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition) Act in the licence agreements of restaurants.

Also, the High Court has asked the BMC to fine customers on the spot, rather than arresting them for violating the hookah ban. Owners will be instantly prosecuted by the relevant authorities, if found operating hookah parlours.

'Irrelevant grounds'
Romi Chaddha, Khar-based hotelier, who has been fighting against the BMC's law said, "Like any other restaurant, we have smoking and non-smoking sections.

If smoking is allowed in a smoking zone, smoking hookahs should also be allowed there. The BMC has put a ban on hookah on irrelevant grounds.
We are going to move the SC seeking justice for people like us who are running our businesses."

Other hookah parlour owners too want the smoking law in the state to incorporate hookah smoking within its ambit.

"Cigarettes are injurious to health. If the government bans hookahs claiming that they are harmful, they should apply the same logic to cigarettes and ban their sale as well," said Chaddha.

Dev Sanghvi, another restaurateur who had moved the court challenging the BMC's order said, "Going by the present logic, the sale of liquor and cigarettes should also be banned."

Sanghvi added that hoteliers are yet to receive the copy of the court's order.

"Why is there so much discrimination? If sale of hookah is injurious to health then lets ban the sale of hookah products too. The government is permitting the sale of these injurious products.
We are ready to send our products for lab tests, and if they are found harmful, we are ready to face a ban," said Rahul Kanal, owner of Frontier Curries and Kebabs, Andheri.

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