Yes Punjab Editorial
( H S Bawa )
I was shocked when I learnt that Hookah Bars / Hookah Parlors are opening in Punjab. Years have passed since then and these bars continue to multiply and flourish.
Hookah may have been something that not all but some of the ‘Nawabs’ used to flaunt but it has never been considered as something good for health.
It is definitely a form of smoking and even the companies, who earn millions and billions because people have a tendency to smoke, now have been made to print on the packages of their products that ‘smoking is injurious to health’. It means that the companies do understand and agree that smoking affects health badly.
Even then, if someone smokes, it is his or her own sweet will but the outcry against the phenomenon of smoking had been so loud that the government had to put a ban on smoking in public places which again goes to prove that smoking is not something good.
In Punjab, the land which belongs to and follows ten Gurus more than any other state in the country or abroad, Hookah Bars should not have been allowed to open or exist in the first place, but sadly, they were.
If somebody has that excuse of globalization and liberalization of civilizations and ideas then please allow me to quote two examples here, one of Gurgaon and the other of Maharashtra.
Gurgaon has put a ban on Hookah Bars and Maharashtra is gearing up to ban. Gurgaon is one of the most futuristic cities India has as on today and Maharashtra continues to be the state which is considered economically and culturally vibrant, besides being in tune with the world trends.
In Gurgaon it needed just an order by the District Magistrate P.C. Meena who simply invoked Section 144 of Cr PC 1973 to ban Hookah Bars. What Meena said is all the more important. He said that hookah bars were serving tobacco molasses containing nicotine which is injurious to the health of the people, especially college students and youth.
In Maharashtra, Home Minister R.R. Patil is reportedly planning to clamp down on hookah parlors of Mumbai. Patil is on record having said that the state government has been examining legalities and would in all likelihood pull the plug on such parlors by the end of the monsoon session of assembly this year.
And for those, who may come forward to plead that the Hookah Bars are just a place to enjoy and relish and the Hookahs there don’t have any substance which can be considered harmful may I quote that a study conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) has revealed that 45 minutes of hookah smoking is equivalent to 50 tobacco cigarettes. Hookah has higher level of heavy metals and carbon monoxide and smoking it is more harmful than cigarette smoking, the report says. Various health risks are associated with hookah smoking such as lung cancer, oral cancer, heart disease, reduced fertility, hepatitis or herpes.
It pains me to bring forth the fact that Hookah Bars and Parlors in Punjab are there even in Hotels and Restaurants owned and operated by Sikh families. More sadly, some misguided Sikh youth, be it boys or girls also ‘relish’ the flavor of these Hookahs available in so many flavors.
I don’t see any reason why one should expect an intervention by the Akal Takht, the supreme temporal authority of the Sikhs, in this matter. As the issue stands raised and if a District Magistrate by its orders can put a ban in his district, the Government of Punjab, surely can, I believe.
May I expect it from the worthy Chief Minister, S.Parksh Singh Badal, who has been blessed and honored by the ‘WAHEGURU’ for a record 5th time to head the state of Punjab, that he will waste no time to order the closure of these Hookah Bars as there is no issue of being secular or non- secular involved in this. It certainly is an issue of preserving our culture, protecting the future of our youth and showing concern about the health of the people living in the state.
May I offer my thanks in anticipation to the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister S.Sukhbir Singh Badal, both of whom have not once but so many times publicly vowed to save the youth of Punjab from the evil of drugs and all that for a better future of the state and its people.
As of now, the question remains, Hookah Bars in Punjab – Should these continue Mr. Chief Minister?