TAMIL NADU

Raids on hookah lounges: 2 held

The police received complaints that hookah lounges were luring minors to smoke.— Photo for representational purpose only

The police received complaints that hookah lounges were luring minors to smoke.— Photo for representational purpose only  

Café owners arrested for allegedly spiking hookah with banned products

After suspecting the use of banned tobacco products in the hookah lounge of a café at Adyar, the police arrested the owners of the coffee shop and launched a city-wide raid on such bars.

As part of crime prevention measures, several police teams have been engaged in apprehending those selling banned products, such as pan masala and gutka, an officer said.

The crackdown began after they received complaints that hookah lounges in the city were luring minors, he said.

Special teams have been raiding several café parlours and restaurants with hookah lounges for the past one week in Nungambakkam, Vepery, Adyar and Besant Nagar. In these localities, hookah lounges are a craze among college-going youth who smoke flavoured tobacco with a single or multi-stemmed instrument for recreation, the police said.

Based on a tip-off, the Shastri Nagar police raided a café located at the junction of 1st Main Road and 3rd Cross Street.

This café at Adyar was found using banned tobacco, the police said. Seizing 400 g of the “banned substance” worth Rs. 20,000, the police arrested the owners — Monish Jain (26) and Anis Jain (21). Both were remanded in judicial custody on Saturday.

The police did not reveal the sections under which they were booked or the nature of the banned substances seized. The hookah was sent to a laboratory.

A restaurant owner who has a hookah lounge said that the city’s lounges were serving only flavoured tobacco and were being run legally. The Supreme Court itself had ruled against the ban on hookah lounges in December 2014, he said.

However, the Supreme Court had fixed strict norms to be followed, including fixing of closed circuit television cameras by hotels and restaurants serving hookah.

The restaurant owner said there were more than 30 cafés and restaurants in the city which have hookah lounges.

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