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Patil's anti-hookah stance is a drag

Teens spent around Rs 1,000 every night puffing away until the wee hours. Life was all cool, and the weekends were puffing good.

Enter Home Minister RR Patil, the man who managed to throw dance bars out of business a couple of years ago. He has now turned his undivided attention to sheesha parlours in the state. On Monday, Patil said that the home department is contemplating imposing a complete ban on these sheesha joints in the state.

Déjà vu, for Mr Patil has been on the banning spree earlier too. In 2005, Patil, who was the then deputy chief minister, single-handedly managed to shut down over 750 dance bars in the city. Once the ban was imposed, nearly 98 per cent of the dance bars operational in city limits had no option but to down their shutters, not to forget the thousands who were rendered jobless after the ban came into effect.

The state exchequer stands to lose crores in the shape of sales tax, excise duty, licence fees etc, with this hookah parlour ban coming into effect. Restaurant owners are already up in arms over the sundry taxes that have been levied on their business. Post the ban on the dance bars the state has already felt its impact on its coffers. And with another ban on sheesha lounges and parlours, the state will yet again face losses.

Apart from the financial drawbacks, the fact that the state has returned to moral policing is tough to digest. Patil mentioned how parents in the state are worried that their children will fall prey to this bad habit and cause severe damage to their health. However, on the same day as Patil mentioned this in the House, Health Minister Suresh Shetty’s son was found enjoying a flavoured puff with friends in a Bandra parlour.

Though its is easy to forget, the truth is that we do live in a democracy which allows every citizen the freedom to make his or her own choices, and deal with the consequences that ensue.

The youth today are a well-informed and responsible lot, and don’t need lessons in morality from politicians and their ilk, whose take on ethics is foggy, to say the least. The state should take a good long look at its own corruption-soiled quarters before deciding to set the youth on the ‘right path’.  

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