Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) has put a blanket ban on the operations of hookah bars in the state with effect from Friday midnight.
According to Kolkata Mayor and state minister Firhad Hakim, although a formal notification will be issued by the KMC authorities by Monday, the corporation and the police authorities have asked all the entities running hookah bars in their premises to stop these facilities immediately as the total ban will be effective from Friday midnight.
“Entities like bars, restaurants and hotels running hookah bars within their premises needed to obtain a special licence to run these facilities. This system of issuing special licence has been done away with, and in future neither such licences will be renewed, nor fresh licences will be issued by the KMC,” Hakim told reporters.
According to Hakim, formal requests have already been made to the entities running hookah bars to close them.
“If the requests work, it is good. If any entity is seen violating the prohibition on this count, it will be dealt with seriously. The violators might be even denied renewal of licence of their bars, eateries, hotels etc.,” Hakim said.
According to the Mayor, it came to the notice of KMC authorities that certain chemicals, which are harmful for health, were being used by certain owners of hookah bars.
“Since it is difficult to keep a close check on this on a regular basis, we have decided to make the city totally free of hookah bars. The KMC authorities are also interacting with the police so that this blanket ban is followed,” Hakim said.
He also said that there is a high possibility of running the business of banned narcotics under the garb of hookah bars.
“This is another reason why a decision has been taken to put a blanket ban on hookah bars,” Hakim said.
In October this year, the Tamil Nadu Assembly had passed an Act amending the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), thus banning hookah bars throughout the state to weed out tobacco abuse. The amended Act provides for a penalty of up to Rs 50,000 for violation along with imprisonment for up to three years.