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Bombay High Court issues circular banning sale of tobacco, hookahs

Upholding a circular issued by the civic body banning sale of tobacco products, including hookahs in eating joints, the Bombay High Court.

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    Upholding a circular issued by the civic body banning sale of tobacco products, including hookahs in eating joints, the Bombay High Court today dismissed a bunch of petitions filed by several hookah parlour owners challenging the circular.

    A division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice G S Godbole observed that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) commissioner has the authority to impose restrictions on all articles which are hazardous to public health.

    The petitioners including Berry Hotels, which run Mocha cafe in south Mumbai, had challenged the July 4 circular of the civic body on the ground that the municipal commissioner does not have powers to issue restrictions under provisions of the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), which is a Central act.

    Advocate Geeta Joglekar, appearing for BMC, told the court that section 394 of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act has been given a wider scope and thus permits the commissioner to ban articles that are hazardous.

    The circular was issued on directions given by the bench to incorporate the provisions of COTPA in licenses issued to all eating joints.

    The direction was passed in a public interest litigation filed by NGO Crusade against Tobacco alleging that minors are allowed to purchase hookahs in these eating joints.

    As per the BMC circular, restaurants and eating joints shall not sell or provide any tobacco related products like cigarettes or hookahs.

    Hookah owners said they will now be challenging the High court order in the Apex court.

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