Illegal smoking rooms abound in Bengaluru

City Health Safety

BBMP has not cracked the whip on hotels, pubs and bars that have an illegal smoking area.

Restaurants, pubs and bars in Bengaluru have smoking areas without acquiring no-objection certificates (NOCs) from BBMP.

“We have a smoking zone in our hotel in the entrance area. There is no restriction for people who smoke there. We have the smoking room without an NOC from BBMP. I don’t know why we didn’t get an NOC. It is like this for a very long time,” H. Lawson, manager of a well-known hotel on Church Street, informed The Observer.

Another manager, who did not want to be named, said: “We have a trader’s licence. Isn’t that enough to have a smoking room? We don’t have an NOC.” The manager refused to show The Observer the smoking room, saying it is under renovation.

A year ago, BBMP implemented rules under an anti-smoking law, but didn’t act against entities that have illegal smoking areas.

Dr U.S. Vishal Rao, an oncologist and a member of Karnataka’s anti-tobacco cell, said: “BBMP didn’t deny the smoking rooms because they thought it was a complex issue. They don’t give much importance to it. Smoking rooms are mostly seen in restaurants that have bars. Teens get addicted to it (tobacco). Tobacco is one of the biggest reasons for cancer. It is increasing.”

Passive smokers are the worst affected; they are the first victims of people smoking in their vicinity.

Some of Bengaluru’s restaurants have open smoking zones. Because of this, non-smokers inhale smoke emitted by smokers.

Abith C., a non-smoker who recently shifted from Kerala to Bengaluru, said: “Smoking is not good. We are non-smokers. Why should we inhale smoke and suffer?”

On the other hand, Nikhil P, a smoker said: “You can’t tell a person not to smoke. It is an addiction. We need a place to smoke, so we do it in the smoking area. We don’t care if it is legal or illegal. The government found a way to make money out of it. So they didn’t stop it.”

The Observer tried to contact the BBMP officer concerned, but she did not answer.

As per the anti-smoking law, which came into effect on October 2, 2008, smoking is banned in public places. Restaurants, hotels, bars, pubs, offices, libraries, courts, post offices, markets, shopping malls, banquet malls, discotheques, coffee houses, auditoriums, cinemas, hospitals, aircraft, buses, trains, Metro trains, monorails, taxis, airports, bus stands and railway stations are public places according to the law.

The law permits smokers to smoke on roads, in their homes and personal vehicles, and smoking rooms that are legal.

BBMP issued a circular in August 2018 stating that all public places, including eateries and hotels, are smoke-free zones.

Smoking is allowed in restricted areas after obtaining a NOC. NOCs are issued to pubs, clubs, restaurants, bars and hotels that have a seating of more than 30 guests.

The action was taken as per the Karnataka Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Health of Non-smokers Act and Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act to protect the rights of the non-smokers and check the ill effects of passive smoking.

Karnataka urban development and housing minister U.T. Khader had warned last year that violation of the rule under Karnataka Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Health of Non-smokers Act, 2001, will result in the cancellation of licence of the establishment.

According to WHO data, India has a total of 12% smokers in the world. Tobacco use kills almost 10 million people in India every year.


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