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Hookah Bars need to be permanently prohibited to save youngsters from Tobacco, Nicotine: Dr Amandeep Kang

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Chandigarh, December 31, 2020 (Yes Punjab News)
Dr Amandeep Kang DHS UT Chandigarh, participating as a special guest in a panel discussion, “Tobacco/ Nicotine Gateway to many addictions -Hookah Bars the new fad with young- Why these should not be permanently banned?”, said that Hookah Bars need to be permanently prohibited to save youngsters from Tobacco/ Nicotine, a gateway to many addictions and Chandigarh administration is already seized of the matter so Hukkah bars are already banned by DC Chandigarh till February 2021.

She added that we are all aware of the health effects of Tobacco and Nicotine, which causes constriction of the blood vessel, so affects all our organs from head to toe. The health risks of smoking through a hookah include exposure to toxic chemicals that are not filtered out by the water and risk of infectious diseases including Tuberculosis and the recent Corona infection as Hookah smoking is a social activity.

The event was organised by T.S. Central State Library, Chandigarh and Strategic Institute for Public Health Education and Research (SIPHER) in collaboration with Resource Centre for Tobacco Control (RCTC) under Dept. of Community Medicine, PGIMER, Eminent experts from PGIMER; SNO NTCP UT Chandigarh; and civil society organizations participated in the panel discussion.

Dr Neeza Singh, Librarian, T.S. Central State Library, Chandigarh & Master Volunteer, ‘Nasha Mukt Bharat Abhiyaan’ and Mrs Neelam Bansal, Library In-charge, T.S. Central State Library, Chandigarh were among the key organisers of the webinar.

Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, Head and Neck Cancer Surgeon and Deputy Director at Tata Memorial Centre, Mumbai in a video message explained that, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), an hour session of hookah can be as harmful as smoking 100 cigarettes. Tobacco-free/flavoured hookah can be toxic to health, as the smoke is filled with carbon monoxides and other harmful carcinogens.

Presenting an overview of the issue, Dr Rakesh Gupta, President, SIPHER cautioned that, Hookah smoking represents a major potential threat to public health. Running a Hookah Bar invites penal provisions under multiple existing Indian Laws still, it remains a public health challenge because of poor implementation of available provisions.

He further intimated that in a typical hookah smoking session lasting 45 min-60 min, Carbon monoxide exposure is 9 times a single cigarette and Nicotine exposure is 1.7 times a single cigarette. He added that a recommendation will be drafted after the panel discussion and sent to Chandigarh Administration and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW ) for appropriate action. The panel discussion was moderated by him and Mr Arun Verma, Director of Operations and Finance SIPHER.

Dr Rakesh Gupta, a Cancer Surgeon and President of Rajasthan Cancer Foundation presented his viewpoint on “Tobacco/Nicotine as a gateway to other addictions” and why cessation facilities need to be upgraded to help those addicted.

Presenting his views as a Public Health Specialist, Prof Dr Goel Director RCTC PGI MeR Chandigarh deliberated that Hookah bars are marketed as a happening place to youngsters though serving deadly products.

They also serve alcohol, food and also offer live music etc. Many types of flavours such as watermelon, tropical fruit, orange cream, caramel and chocolate etc. are added to attract youngsters. A survey was done in 2013-2014, 79% of youth aged 12-17 smoked hookah because of flavours.

“Drugs Control Officer Chandigarh should be asked to inspect and draw samples of such molasses containing Nicotine being used in Hookah bars operating in the tri-city and get them analysed from the laboratory of Govt. Analyse Chandigarh as per the High Court verdict in CRM-39328/2015 for further action in the matter,” noted Mr G L Singal, a former State Drug Controller, who was instrumental in closing down the Hookah bars in Haryana in his tenure on directions of Hon’ble Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Mr Bharat Kanojia told how the Chandigarh Administration was convinced by the Health Dept about the illegality of running Hookah bars and to ban these in the city.

Mr Shivinder Sehdev, IEC/BCC Consultant with NHM Punjab suggested that an advisory may be published in Print/Electronic/Social media about the harms and illegality of running Hookah bars. PGIMER may be requested to create evidences in the form of compliance studies on Hookah Bars, which can be further given to media houses for publishing.

Dr Rana J Singh, Deputy Regional Director, The Union South-East Asia office concluded that the recommendations of this consultation must be shared with MOHFW and impress upon the immediate requirement to impose a pan India ban on Hookah Bars to save a young generation.

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