The Gujarat Assembly today passed an amendment bill which proposes a total ban on hookah bars and imposes maximum jail term of three years on those operating such joints despite absolute restriction. The Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution)(Gujarat Amendment), Bill, 2017 was passed through majority voice vote by ruling BJP members in the absence of Congress MLAs.
The Bill, which proposes some amendments to the present COTP Act, has replaced an Ordinance passed by Gujarat Government in December last year in this regard, after which, all the hookah bars in the state have been asked to shut their shops with immediate effect.
In his speech explaining the need to bring such amendment Bill, Gujarat Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja told the House that the current Act does not cover hookah bars in it.
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“Smoking a hookah is far more injurious to health than a cigarette. Since hookah was not covered under the COTP Act, we have brought this Bill to make necessary amendments in the law to cover all kinds of activities associated with hookah bars. Our aim is to protect our youth from this deadly addiction,” said Jadeja.
As per the Bill, running a hookah bar in Gujarat will be considered as an offence punishable under this Act, the minister added. Running a hookah bar will be considered as a cognizable offence which would attract a maximum fine of Rs 50,000 and a jail term up to three years, he said.