Amid reports of hookah bars being run in some eateries and resto-bars, the Tamil Nadu police have warned of stern action against the violators.
Director-General of Police Shankar Jiwal said police commissioners/superintendents of cities/districts had been instructed to enforce the ban on hookah bars. Firm action would be taken against those found to be running such bars. “Besides booking them under the relevant Act, we will write to the local body to seal the premises,” he said.
In June, the Tamil Nadu government amended the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003. The amended law defined a hookah bar as an establishment where people gather to smoke tobacco from a communal hookah, or narghile, which is provided individually.
Section 4A of the notification says, “No person shall, either on his own or on behalf of any other person, open or run any hookah bar or serve hookah to the customers in any place including an eating house.”
Empowering the police to seize any material or article used as a means of running a hookah bar, the government said whoever contravened the provisions under the Act would be punished with imprisonment for a period which is not less than one year, but which may extend up to three years.
According to a senior police officer, the police had enhanced surveillance at vulnerable locations, as there were reports of students, especially teenagers, being given access to hookah in some places. “Surprise checks will be conducted and stringent action taken against the owners of eateries or bars providing hookah facility,” he said.
In Avadi and Tambaram Commissionerates, the respective police chiefs, K. Shankar and A. Amalraj, said they had not come across any bar or restaurant offering hookah. Special teams were keeping vigil, and stringent action would be taken against offenders, Mr. Amalraj said.