Rules go for a toss as more and more minors take to hookah in Hyderabad
DECCAN CHRONICLE | Bansari trivedi J
Hyderabad: Many under-21 youngsters are getting addicted to smoking hookah, cigarettes and drinking, which are resulting in them being involved in major accidents. They throng clandestine hookah parlours at Sindhi Colony, Gachibowli, Tolichowki, Maredpally and other areas in the city.
Hookah was banned in 2017 in Hyderabad after parlours that were allowed to function legally were found violating rules. They not only allowed minors but also served them alcohol.
Hookah pots, flavours, coal and all products required to smoke hookah are available openly. No seller checks the Id-cards of the buyer, irrespective of the individual’s age.
The question that authorities need to answer is in the purpose that is being served by banning hookah when it is easily available for even underage children, who have their own safe zones to chill out.
Replying to a question, a high-level official said that the identity (ID) card rule is hardly being followed.
"Not only are underage children spotted in hookah outlets but also around pan shops, which sell hookah pots, flavours, and coal. Such complaints are registered on a daily basis. It is a herculean task to conduct checks everywhere and every day? We catch hold of the sellers and consumers when a complaint is registered or when a raid is conducted and they are caught red-handed," he said.
It is common knowledge that the illegal parlors in the city hire service providers who are in the 18-21 years age-group. Moreover, to cash in on the craze, the parlours charge three times more than it used to be earlier.
Currently, the cost of a hookah pot is Rs 350-500, flavour comes for Rs 100, and the coal used for hookah is `two per coal. The cost of smoking hookah for 30 minutes is around Rs 100- 200. However, hookah parlours charge anything from Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,500 per pot.
A hookah parlour owner justified the high costs by stating "We have to pay mamool to police officers to run the risky business. In order to make a living and pay our staff our charges are on the higher side. Introducing rules and regulations overnight will affect our revenues."
The law says: The order was earlier issued by the ministry of health and family welfare by amending the Prohibition of Smoking in Public Places Act, 2008. ‘Public Place’ is defined as any place to which the public has access whether as of right or not and includes all places visited by general public namely auditorium, hospital building, railway waiting room, amusement centres, public offices, court buildings, educational institutions, libraries, coffee houses, canteens, banks, clubs and also open spaces surrounding hotels and restaurants.