Karnataka to Introduce Bans on Hookah Bars and Raise Minimum Age for Cigarette Sales to 21

On Wednesday, the Karnataka government approved a Bill to prohibit hookah bars throughout the state, introducing strict penalties, such as imprisonment ranging from one to three years and fines up to Rs 1 lakh for individuals found contravening the ban. The decision to amend the existing Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) aims to protect the well-being of the populace and mitigate the prevalence of tobacco-related ailments, as stated in the notification.

Additionally, the state has also prohibited the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products to those below 21 years of age.

The amended Bill additionally mandates a complete prohibition on the use of tobacco products in public areas, underlining the dedication to establishing smoke-free environments. Furthermore, the government, led by Siddaramaiah, has enforced a ban on the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products within a 100-meter radius of any educational institution. Violators of this regulation could face a fine of Rs 1,000.

Addressing the government’s decision to ban hookah bars, Karnataka minister and Congress leader Priyank Kharge remarked, “It is a decision that the government has taken. There are a lot of youngsters, in their teens, who are found in these places. The government, in the interest of health and law and order, have taken this decision.”

The Karnataka government’s action follows concerning data presented by the WHO Global Adult Tobacco Survey-2016-17 (GATS-2), revealing that 22.8 percent of adults in Karnataka use tobacco, with 8.8 percent being smokers. Additionally, the report highlights that 23.9 percent of adults in the state are exposed to passive smoking, inhaling smoke from individuals who smoke or burn tobacco products.

In February 2024, the Telangana government also passed a similar bill, prohibiting all hookah parlors across the state. Furthermore, Haryana announced a ban last year on serving hookah to customers in hotels, restaurants, bars, and commercial establishments statewide.

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