In a move aimed at safeguarding the health and well-being of its citizens, Karnataka Karnataka to Ban Hookah Bars to enact stringent measures to combat tobacco addiction and eliminate the hookah bars. Led by Karnataka Health Minister Dinesh Gundu Rao, this initiative seeks to protect the youth of the state from the danger of tobacco consumption and substance abuse. The proposed changes to the existing legislation, the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), mark a significant step toward a healthier future for Karnataka’s youth.
The impetus for this transformative endeavor came after a high-level meeting held at Vikas Soudha in Bengaluru. Minister Rao, along with Sports Minister B Nagendra and senior Health Department officials, deliberated extensively on the pressing need to revise existing laws and regulations governing tobacco use and hookah.
Raising the Age Limit
Foremost among the proposed changes is the adjustment of the legal age for purchasing tobacco products. Minister Rao emphasized the gravity of the situation, declaring that “Today’s youth are losing their precious future by being addicted to drugs.” As a result, it has been decided to raise the minimum age for tobacco consumption from 18 to 21 years. This measure is a proactive response to the alarming trend of underage tobacco use, with authorities recognizing the need to safeguard vulnerable young minds from the clutches of addiction.
The Hookah Bar Ban
Perhaps the most conspicuous aspect of this initiative is the comprehensive ban on hookah bars within the state. Minister Rao underscored the crucial role that these establishments have played in the proliferation of substance abuse among the youth. He stated emphatically, “Hookah bars are a gateway to drugs. Youngsters aged between 12 and 27 visit these places and get addicted to drugs.” The decision to ban these venues is part of the government’s overarching vision to create a “hookah-free” Karnataka.
To achieve these goals, the Karnataka government intends to introduce a separate act aimed at banning hookah bars explicitly. This dedicated legislation underscores the government’s commitment to eradicating this menace from the state.
Expanding Tobacco-Free Zones
In addition to the ban on hookah bars, the government will extend its purview by increasing the buffer zones in which the sale of tobacco products is prohibited. These zones will encompass educational institutions, places of worship, healthcare facilities, parks, Anganwadi centers, and public offices, reinforcing the government’s commitment to creating a healthier environment in these critical spaces.
Karnataka’s Commitment to a Tobacco-Free Future
The proposed amendments to COTPA herald a comprehensive approach to the regulation of tobacco products and the eradication of substance abuse. The enforcement of these changes will be a collaborative effort involving the Department of Health and Family Welfare, local organizations, and the police department.
This decisive move by the Karnataka government mirrors similar actions taken in other states. Tamil Nadu, for instance, recently issued a gazette notification prohibiting hookah bars and specifying stringent penalties for those who flout the ban. This initiative underscores the government’s commitment to the well-being of its citizens and sets a commendable example for other regions grappling with similar challenges.