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Karnataka government to bars and restaurants: Have only standing rooms for smoking or lose licence

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BENGALURU: The government on Friday directed bars, pubs, restaurants and hotels to have only standing rooms for smoking. Food, chairs, tables, ashtrays, matchboxes and lighters should not be allowed, said a circular issued by the Directorate of Municipal Administration.

Also, non-smokers and under-18 individuals should be disallowed from entering these areas. This move is in an attempt to protect non-smokers from the dangers of second-hand smoke. Smoking will be allowed in the designated smoking areas only after obtaining a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the civic body concerned that will check whether the eatery has a seating capacity above 30. If these rules are violated the restaurant/bar/pub stands to lose its license.

Karnataka’s Urban Development and Housing Minister, UT Khader, on Monday, warned saying, “Recent studies have shown that there is no safe-level of second hand smoking, we are concerned about the health of the staff who are working in hotels and bars, and customers especially women and children.”

“In light of all scientific evidences pointing out that second-hand smoking is as harmful as smoking this issue needs to be addressed on priority. We have significant evidence from the world’s best cities that making smoke-free hotel environment improves the business,” Khader added.

“We are confident that hotels and bars associations in state will welcome and support this initiative. Hotels, clubs and bars owe a legal and moral responsibility of protecting the right to health of their staff and customers,” Khader said. He also observed that fire safety is an equally important concern as that of health.

According to the circular, the fire department had raised a concern about fire safety in bars and restaurants in a letter which states open fire sources like smoking are potential causes for fire hazards.

The circular was issued as a part of Joint Consultation Meeting ‘Advancing Urban Health Policies — Key Policies for Non-Communicable Diseases Prevention’ held on Monday organised by the Karnataka government in association with National Centre for Disease Informatics and Research (NCDIR), Association of Healthcare Providers (India) and Association of National Board Accredited Institutions.

According to World Health Organization, Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) mainly Cardiovascular Diseases like Stroke, Diabetes, Cancer and lung diseases are attributed to nearly 61% of deaths in India and in 2008, NCDs accounted for 5.2 million deaths. Tobacco is one of the risk factors for NCDs and globally 14% of all NCD deaths among adults are attributed to tobacco.

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