Welcoming the Karnataka government’s proposal to amend the law for a complete ban on hookah bars, the Consortium for Tobacco Free Karnataka (CTFK) has demanded that the process of amending the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) be expedited. Besides, the ban on hookah bars should be implemented with immediate effect, the consortium demanded.
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The consortium is a coalition of like-minded individuals, public health advocates, healthcare associations, and civil society organisations working towards a tobacco-free Karnataka since 2001.
Addressing presspersons, oncologist Ramesh Bilimagga, who is the president of the consortium, said the COTPA amendment has been pending for a long time.
Recently, Health Minister Dinesh Gundu Rao announced that the government would amend the COTPA for a complete ban on hookah bars, as they have become “a hub for sale and supply of drugs.” It has also been proposed to increase the legal age for purchase or sale of tobacco products from 18 to 21 and include educational institutions, places of worship, healthcare institutions, parks, anganwadi centres, and public offices under the 100-metre buffer where tobacco products cannot be sold, the Minister had said.
S.J. Chander, convener of the consortium, said that apart from these, the penalty for compoundable offenses should be increased from ₹200 to ₹2,000. “The provision for advertisement and promotion at point-of-sale should be abolished and the sale of loose tobacco or single-stick tobacco products should be banned. All these are essential to ensuring that public places are 100% smoke free,” he said.
“At least 82 toxic chemicals and carcinogens have been identified in hookah smoke. Although the smoke passes through water, this does not eliminate the hazardous, addictive chemicals released from the tobacco,” he said.
Besides, the combustion of charcoal used to heat hookah tobacco may pose additional health risks, since this combustion process produces dangerous substances such as carbon monoxide, metals, and other chemicals.