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Times of India
09 June 2010
Pune, India

Samples Of Molasses Collected From Hookah Bars In The City Sent To State Health Lab
The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) will cancel the food licences of restaurants and bars that are operating hookah bars if there any traces of intoxicants found in the molasses collected from them. The samples have been sent to the state health laboratory.

“We have collected samples of molasses from a few hookah bars in the city. The samples have been forwarded to the state health laboratory for testing and if the samples are detected with intoxicants, the civic body will cancel the food licences of the joints. We will submit the reports to the police department and it is up to the police to initiate action against the offenders,” a P/C health department official told TO.

The P/C has already launched a drive to check food licences. “There is no special permission required for hookah bars. The P/C issues food licences and can revoke them in case of any violation of the P/C rules,” the official added.

Assistant commissioner Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Chandrashekhar Salunkhe said there was no special provision or Act to help the FDA check hookah bars. “Earlier, the FDA food inspectors were authorised to slap a fine on those who advertised tobacco, but now the state has amended the Tobacco Control Act, 2003. Any gazetted officer can take action against tobacco advertisements. The FDA is not directly related to the issual of hookah permissions and checks,” he said.

Food inspector M S Kembalkar said, “If hotels, bars, restaurants or any eateries with the licence to serve food provide hookah to customers they should have a separate smoking zone. If drugs and consumption of narcotics is happening in these places, it is up to the police to take action.”

Corporator and medical practitioner Siddharth Dhende blamed the health department for inaction. “There is no effort by the PMC to curb the open selling of banned drugs in the city. Pune never had the hookah culture. This is a recent trend and the PMC health department should have cracked down on the places with hookah–smoking facilities much earlier,” said Dhende.

Harmful Effects

Various studies show that smoking a hookah is as addictive and more harmful than cigarettes because of the way people smoke while using the waterpipe

Hookah smokers taken in the equivalent of 100 cigarettes or more during a single waterpipe session

Hookah smokers absorb high levels of toxins and carcinogens that contribute to heart disease, lung cancer, and respiratory disease

Although nicotine is filtered through the water at the base of the pipe, experts conclude that hookah smoking is addictive

Hookah bars upset about show–cause notice
By Laxmi Birajdar
Restaurants, bars and other places that offer hookah smoking services in the city are planning to protest against the show–cause notice issued by the Pune Municipal Corporation’s (PMC) health department.

Officials from the health department had visited a prominent hookah bar on Fergusson college road and other places in the city last moth to collect samples of the molasses used in the hookahs. “They asked for samples of molasses for testing and we handed them 150 gm of it,” said a source from a hookah bar.

“We don’t mind applying for a food licence. We will protest against any ban through the Restaurants Association of Pune,” the source said. The civic body does not have the necessary machinery to give licences to hookah joints, the sources said. “Three years ago, while applying for various licences, we also sought one for our hookah services. The officials said they were not aware of any such paperwork,” the source added.

Other hookah bars too said that the civic officials took 35 gm of molasses from them. “We were told they would first test the sample for narcotics and tell us the nicotine per cent in it. However, we will protest against any crack down. We have a food licence, and there are no laws on hookah licences,” said a source from a food–cum–hookah joint on FC Road.

Hubble–Bubble: The Instrument
Food licences to go if tests show drugs

The hookah has a flexible tube, with a container of water at one end and a mouthpiece at the other. Above the container of water, usually at the top of a tall stem, is an ashtraycum–filter where charcoal and scented tobacco are allowed to smoulder

When one inhales by drawing on the mouthpiece, smoke is pulled down the stem of the tube, through the water and, via the tube and mouthpiece, into the mouth and lungs

Food licences to go if tests show drugs

The Process

A whole–leaf tobacco is dried, soaked, crumbled and then scented. The bowl of the hookah pipe is then packed with the moist product and fired by smouldering charcoal or coals

The tobacco can be unscented but flavours including strawberry, apple, rose or mint are generally preferred

Origin Of Hookah
It may have originated in India, or China. In the 17th Century, it took off in Turkey, where it is known as nargileh and in the Arab world’s sheesha (as tobacco is called ) parlours

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