Pune: The ban on hookah parlours and restos and bars serving hookah in Pune is going up in smoke as most of these establishments here are seen flouting the rules.
Hookah not only postures serious health hazards but also a serious risk of fire hazards. It is due to the combustible ingredients used in preparation are being served regardless of the ban. Even some restaurants in the city are serving hookah under the pretext of ‘herbal hookah.’
BAN ON HOOKAH
There is a blanket ban on hookah in Maharashtra. The ban came after Kamala Mills fire incident in Mumbai that had resulted in the loss of 14 lives. After this incident, the state revised COTPA (Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act) and deployed a ban on hookah bars or any place that was even remotely involved in selling hookah.
Hookah attracts a lot of youth and the customers in general and makes them sit for an average of three hours in the restaurant. The longer period leads to consumers ordering more amount of food at restaurants serving hookah. Still, there are cafes and restaurants in the city that do not have alcohol licenses and only are dependent on the sales of hookah.
E-HOOKAH ON RISE
Apart from hookah, many youngbrigade are into vaping. E-hookahs are viewed as ‘cool gadget’ because they can be charged (battery-operated) and youngsters don’t mind purchasing replacement cartridges costing just a penny.
Pocket hookah looks like a lip-gloss sticks or some look like bullet-like cylinders and some look like marking pens. Portable pot vaporisers called ‘vapes’ are going hand-in-hand with the spread of e-cigarettes and taking the drugs nexus by storm.
“There are high chances that drugs such as marijuana and brown sugar are used while serving hookahs. The samples can be traced during the health checkup of the patients who come for treatment in the de-addiction centre,” Ajay Dudhane, President of the Anandvan de-addiction-cum-rehabilitation Centre said.
“Due to change in lifestyle, youth especially in the age of 17-21 are more addicted towards hookah culture. Pen hookahs, the street name for electronic cigarettes in Pune, have made their way to the city’s school students now. As it is easily available for Rs 300-Rs 400, the demand for such hazardous objects has gone up.”
Rahul (name changed) one of the smokers, asserted, “Initially I used to visit hookah parlours with my friends just for fun. I was initially surprised that even girls smoke a hookah. Drugs such as cannabis, brown sugar were used in hookah. Once addicted to it, I didn’t even remember what I used to talk about and where I was. I am feeling a little better now that my parents brought me to a rehabilitation (deaddiction) centre.”
The bottom line is those who have to smoke will still smoke even with the outlets serving hookahs are out of their ways. The role of the parents, to instruct good habits in their children, is not a role that the administrators can apt.