Restaurants, bars in state to become smoke-free

After PIL in high court, government decides to ban hookah and sale of tobacco products in restaurants and bars across state

In what will be a major setback to clubbers and restaurateurs, use of hookahs and sale of tobacco products will be completely banned in all restaurants and bars. The decision was taken by the state government in the wake of an ongoing Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Bombay High Court.

The PIL was filed by an NGO, Crusade Against Tobacco, which pointed towards minors being allowed to smoke hookahs in parlours and eating joints. The state has decided to implement certain stringent provisions of the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition) Act. The provisions allow making corresponding changes in the licence agreements which will disallow hotels from selling hookah and tobacco products. The changes in the licences will be made by various municipal corporations statewide.

PMC Chief Medical Officer Dr R R Pardeshi said he was yet to get a copy of the new order. "I have ordered a copy of the new rules and will have to carefully study them before commenting on them," he said. While the clause still has to be implemented, city hoteliers and club owners are unaware of the development. "I knew that there was a ban on smoking in public places, but this is simply absurd," said the owner of a popular club. "We haven't received any notification regarding this rule. If they are going to be so stringent, then they might also ban serving food and drinks."

Hoteliers also said the ban would eat into their profits as major revenue was generated from tobacco sales.
A source from a popular cafe, however, welcomed the move. "At least the kids will stop smoking. But even if they stop restaurants from selling tobacco, these kids might just go to other places and smoke. So it's no big deal," said the source. 

Zoeb Asif, a regular patron at clubs, said the new clause was as absurd as consuming alcohol being illegal below the age of 25 years.

(With inputs from Akshata Shetty).

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