Confusion prevails on sheesha’s status

The public and senior police officials seem confused on whether sheesha is banned or not, whereas, junior policemen continue to raid cafés and restaurants serving sheesha and penalise sellers and consumers, Pakistan Today has learnt.
Irregular police raids on cafés and restaurants continue around the city, as many consumers and café owners are being punished for using and selling sheesha.
Many youngsters, including girls, have been dragged to police stations on allegations of smoking sheesha in public places. Most of the people brought in did not even know that smoking sheesha in public places was a crime, as sheesha is being sold so openly. On the other hand, superintendent of police (SP) level officials were found caught in the same dilemma. “The law of banning sheesha is not clear but mild crackdowns are conducted at times”, the Model Town SP said. He said that crackdowns are conducted for the reason that people use sheesha by using different substances in it and often brawls are reported from such cafes.
On the flipside, youngsters caught in police raids, complain otherwise. As police registers FIRs against sheesha consumers and sellers, citizens claim that the law is being violated so openly that none of them has any idea. “Even if we are smoking sheesha, it should be the manager who should be penalised not us,” citizen Umer Ayaz said. He said that consumers should not be punished for a lack of awareness.
Sheesha has been banned in cafés and restaurants around the city under the Protection of Non-smokers Health Ordinance 2002. In March, Lahore District Coordination Officer (DCO) Ahad Cheema wrote separate letters to officials concerned with directions to implement relative provisions of the ordinance to save non-smokers from hazards of smoking. In the letters written to all executive district officers (EDO) and nine town municipal officers (TMO), the DCO directed officials to enforce the relevant provisions of law and ensure implementation on ban on smoking at office premises and public places in their respective jurisdictions.
But such open violation of law seems to confuse the masses. Sheesha is being used in almost all cafes in Lahore. Defence Housing Authority (DHA) management, while standing out of the crowd, successfully managed to clear out all sheesha serving cafes in their area and currently DHA is the only place where the sheesha ban has been implemented fully. In rest of the city, sheesha remains the top seller, as demand in youngsters is increasing.
Number of small cafes is multiplying day-by-day. Model Town Bank Square Market, which is a very congested market, has more than 20 cafés selling sheesha. Other than Model Town, MM Alam Road, Khurshid Kasuri Road, Liberty Market, Allama Iqbal Town, Qaddafi Stadium and cafés in Johar Town serve sheesha openly without any hindrance.
Small cafes located in building basements and small shops around schools and colleges continue to sell sheesha saying that it is the number one demand of the public. “How can I not sell sheesha? It’s the top demand of youngsters and nothing sells like sheesha in my café. There wouldn’t be any reason to do business without sheesha, banning sheesha would be like sizing my business”, Imran, who owns a small café near Hussain Chowk, said. “Police low rankers come here but only when they are short of money and need cash to spend otherwise everything is fine”, he added.
“Without sheesha we wouldn’t be able to pay rentals”, café manager of Jammin Java located in vicinity of the Beaconshouse National University (BNU) said. Sheesha is banned all over the world. Even Arab states, from where sheesha originated, have banned the use and promotion of sheesha due to its injurious nature. It is learnt that one session of smoking sheesha results in carbon monoxide levels increasing by at least four to five times higher than the amount produced by one cigarette. Higher levels of carbon monoxide could lead to brain damage and unconsciousness.

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  1. Lahori Munda via Facebook said:

    yahan to jo awam karti hai us per ban lag jata hai koi tafri nahi hai…pehle kite flying per ban laga diya tha koi haal nahi dhundte har masle ka hal ban nahi hota…

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