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Karnataka HC upholds blanket ban on sale of hookah, water-pipe smoking

The decision came following the rejection of a batch of petitions challenging the government's ban, which was deemed necessary due to concerns over fire hazards, public health, and safety.
Last Updated : 22 April 2024, 19:46 IST
Last Updated : 22 April 2024, 19:46 IST

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Bengaluru: The High Court has upheld the state government’s notification imposing a blanket ban on sale of hookah and water-pipe smoking.

Expressing concerns over the reports that a complete puff of hookah is equivalent to 100 cigarettes, Justice M Nagaprasanna said that even herbal hookah, as claimed by a petitioner, is a storehouse of carbon monoxide, which is poisonous.

“With all these being in public domain, it is not understandable as to why the state had kept quiet all these days to leave these places to mushroom into hundreds. It is averred that there are about 800 hookah places/hookah bars in Karnataka. Therefore, they have been completely unregulated till today,” the court said.

The petitioners, all operating hookah places and cafes, had challenged the February 7, 2024 notification issued by the health and family welfare department.

The ban was imposed taking recourse to the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act (COTPA), 2003 and the Karnataka Poisons (Possession and Sale) Rules, 2015.

The petitioners argued that COTPA is a piece of central legislation and since the field is occupied by a central legislation, the state by a notification could not impose a ban on sale of hookah.

The advocate general submitted that it is the duty of the state to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health under Article 47 of the Constitution.

It was submitted that the notification had to be issued pending formal amendment to the Act. He said the state has also introduced a Bill seeking ban of hookah and the Bill is cleared in both the Houses of the legislature and it is before the Governor for assent.

Justice Nagaprasanna said that in the light of Article 47 of the Constitution and its interpretation by the Apex Court, it is the duty of the state to ensure public health and prohibition of intoxication and drugs that would be injurious to public health.

The court said that as per rules, no service shall be allowed in any smoking area or space provided for smoking and hookah cannot be inhaled without any service being permitted.

“If the ban imposed in terms of the notification dated 07-02-2024 is read with the Bill that is tabled which is pending assent, it would in no way be contrary to the Act and the rules. The rules are clearly in favour of the state to ban any service in a smoking area and what is now sought to be done is exactly the same,” the court said.

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Published 22 April 2024, 19:46 IST

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