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Karnataka Govt Imposes Statewide Ban on Hookah at Public Places

In Nation, News
February 08, 2024

BENGALURU:
The Karnataka government has banned the use and sale of both tobacco and non-tobacco hookah at public places across the state with immediate effect, aimed at safeguarding the health of its citizens and stem the tide of tobacco-related diseases.

The decision was announced on Thursday by the state’s Health Minister Dinesh Gundu Rao.

He reaffirmed the state’s responsibility in taking care of the health of its people and to eliminate health hazards.

”The prohibition of hookah use, sale, and service in hotels, restaurants, pubs, bars, lounges, cafes, clubs, and other establishments is seen as a crucial step in protecting the youth from substance abuse and the harmful effects of tobacco,” the minister’s office said in a release.

The government of Karnataka has taken this action with the conviction that it will be met with support from all responsible citizens who place the health and well-being of the people as a paramount concern, it added.

This action is backed by ”alarming data” from the WHO Global Adult Tobacco Survey-2016 -17 (GATS-2), which states that 22.8 per cent of adults in Karnataka use tobacco, with 8.8 per cent being smokers.

The report further reveals that 23.9 per cent of adults are exposed to secondhand smoke in public places, demonstrating the pervasive risk of tobacco consumption in the state.

The WHO Global Youth Tobacco Survey (2019) underscored the growing engagement of youth with tobacco products, with nearly one-fifth of students aged 13-15 having consumed tobacco in some form, it further said, moreover, research has shown that both tobacco-based shisha and ”herbal” shisha emit smoke laden with toxic agents, heightening the risk of cancers, heart disease, and lung disease.

The economic burden of tobacco is equally concerning with Karnataka incurring Rs 983 crore in 2011 due to tobacco-related illnesses among individuals aged 35-69, highlighting the urgent need for preventative measures, it added.

Recognising tobacco as a gateway to drug abuse, the state government’s ban also addresses the disturbing increase in opioid use and the initiation of drug abuse stemming from tobacco consumption, as indicated by the World Drugs Report 2022, the release said.

The dangers of hookah smoking are further amplified by studies comparing it with cigarette smoking, revealing that hookah smoke contains many of the same harmful substances, including nicotine, tar, and heavy metals, it said. Hookah smokers are also at risk for a range of serious diseases, including various types of cancers and heart disease.

The ban addresses the illegal operation of numerous hookah bars in Karnataka , particularly those close to educational institutions.

The move is supported by legal provisions including the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) 2003 and the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, among others, which hookah bars have been found to violate.