Nagpur: Alarmed over mushrooming hookah parlours and youngsters getting hooked to the heady stuff, the State Government on Thursday issued a notification putting a blanket ban on hookah parlours being run clandestinely under the cover of recreation clubs, restaurants and coffee house.
Now, operating of hookah parlours would draw fine of Rs 1 lakh and 3-year imprisonment under the provisions of amended Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act (COTPA), 2003.
Following lack of legal provisions, the operators of hookah parlours most of the times escaped tough action. However, the deadly fire at Kamala Mills which killed 14 people in December last year, proved to be nemesis of hookah parlours. The State Government passed a Bill in both Houses of the State Legislature in April this year. Accordingly, a notification issued by the Home Department on Thursday, October 4, banned hookah parlours across the state after President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent to the Bil.
The State has witnessed mushrooming growth of hookah parlours since the past few years. Even though hookah is age-old tradition in several parts of the country, the addiction was given new heights in this new era. Tobacco, ganja and other narcotics were being enjoyed in flavoured combination. In hundreds of raids carried out by cops, a large number of youngsters were found hooked to the addiction of the hookah. Alarmed over the disturbing trend, the State Government put its foot down and banned hookah parlours.
Maharashtra is the second state after Gujarat to impose such a ban, which will come into effect immediately.
“Since the notification has been issued, the ban comes into effect immediately. It will be the responsibility of the police to ensure the ban is implemented,” said an official from the Home Department.
The Home Department had been planning to regulate hookah parlours, but Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis insisted on a blanket ban after the fire at Kamala Mills in December 2017, in which 14 people died of suffocation. According to the report by the probe panel, the fire was caused by an ember from a hookah.