LAHORE: While disposing of a petition against raids at sheesha cafes, Lahore High Court Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial on Monday allowed the authorities to take action under the law that restricts smoking at public places.
The CJ held that Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-smokers Health Ordinance authorised the government to take action against restaurants/cafes serving sheesha to their customers. The chief justice observed that the government was bound to implement the law and allowed the city district government to strictly implement relevant laws and regulations putting a ban on smoking at public places and open spaces.
The CJ observed that sheesha smoking also fell under the definition of use of tobacco, which was highly injurious to health, but a complete ban could not be imposed on it under the constitution. Justice Bandial also observed that smoking was health hazardous but law did not ban it completely and in some countries the smokers’ rights were also protected and were provided smoking areas.Sheesha cafe owners moved a petition seeking permission of smoking and against police raids at their cafes. The petitioners’ counsel, Shehzad Shaukat, in his rebuttal said that un-constructed area of a restaurant/hotel was called ‘open space’ and sheesha could be offered there.
He said that there was no ban on smoking at open places. Earlier, he had submitted that the government launched a crackdown against the restaurants, which had badly damaged their business. He said that smoking was not banned at every place. He said that use of sheesha was not harmful for health nor it was a prohibited product and there was no justification for taking action against the petitioners. He also said that the petitioners had designated places for smoking in the restaurants.
He requested that the government should be restrained from taking coercive measures against the cafes after putting a ban on the use of sheesha. He requested the court to stop the government authorities from taking action against them. The counsel for the provincial government while opposing the petition had said that smoking was harmful to the health, especially to the youth. He had submitted that the young generation is suffering from immoral activities under the sheesha and it was also causing different diseases among the youngsters. – Dailytimes