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Hookah pipes banned from special smoking zones

May 29, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

A loophole in the law that permitted smoking of hookah pipes at hotels, restaurants and airports has been firmly closed.

New anti-smoking laws in India ban smoking in many places, but special smoking zones, where cigars, cigarettes and pipes may be smoked, are exempt. In preparing the laws, however, someone apparently forgot to mention hookahs.

Hookah pipes, sometimes called hubbly-bubblies or nargiles, are large single- or multi-stemmed instruments for vaporising and smoking flavoured tobacco – and sometimes other substances. The vapour or smoke is passed through a water basin before inhalation.

As India’s nationwide smoking ban did not prohibit consumption via hookahs, hookah bars started to proliferate. An amendment to India’s laws now makes it compulsory for hotels, restaurants and airports to display a board outside smoking zones warning people that smoking is injurious to the health of both smokers and passive smokers.

The amended provision under India’s Prohibition of Smoking in Public Places rules state that “no service shall be allowed in any smoking area or space provided for smoking”, the Times of India reported. Hookahs can no longer be used to get around the law.

The paper quoted a government anti-smoking officer saying the new wording would help curb “the mushrooming of hookah bars in hotels and restaurants in metropolitan cities”.

The juxtaposition of hookahs and mushrooms brings to mind the famous hookah-smoking caterpillar in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. He smoked his hookah contentedly while seated on a mushroom.

Written by Peter Needham

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