Legal action against Sheesha smoking impossible, says Rana Sana
LAHORE: Sheesha smoking, a modern way of addiction, is spreading among youngsters in the provincial capital like a jungle fire and this latest menace rapidly infecting the school and college students of upper class.
Sheesha houses have been established in the posh localities of the city during the last 4 to 5 years and this mushroom growth of modern smoking dens is attracting the youths and the number of Sheesha Houses has increased massively.
The most disgusting aspect of this awful practice is that smoking is on the rise among young adults under the very nose of authorities, but steps are being taken to control the stretch of Sheesha smoking to other areas.
Children below 18 who can’t directly buy cigarettes off the shelf, throng the ‘Sheesha Houses’ spread across the city including Model Town, Johar Town, Board of Revenue Society, Defence Housing Authority, Gulberg, Tech Society and some other upper class restaurants, hotels and clubs to have a puff or two.
An influx of vehicles filled with teenagers, boys and girls, can be observed standing outside Sheesha Houses in the evening that continued till late at night. It has been a practice that a large number of school and college students of both genders belonging to under-18 age group hang out the said Sheesha houses for smoking as they don’t face any hurdle here to satiate their desire.
An eyewitness, ACCA student of a local college, claimed that he has seen students of class 7th and 8th having Sheesha smoking and even drugs in one of such Sheesha houses. “Once I went to a Sheesha House at Bank Square area in Model Town around lunch time and I saw 10 to 15 school girls smoking and enjoying sheesha”, he claimed.
Another social worker Munir Khan who visited more than 5 Sheesha Houses in Model Town, Johar Town, Tech Society, DHA and M M Alam road Gulberg told this scribe that he talked to a group of teen-agers sitting in a Sheesha House and they told him that their parents were unaware about water pipe smoking habit and if they knew, they would have no objection, he added.
Sheesha, traditionally known as hookah was considered to be an integral part of rural south Asia. One can still picture a shaded spot under a tree in rural Pakistan where three or four elderly folks sit on a Charpai and take turns in sucking tobacco from the contraption which is known as a water pipe. Even a decade ago, one could not have imagined that this rural derelict will become a fashionable pastime. While latest ‘Sheesha’ means “flavoured water pipe smoking” and different Sheesha cafe offer a mixture of crude types of tobacco fermented with molasses and fruits and the sweet odour of fruits conceals the natural smell of tobacco’s tar and nicotine.
Social organizations in the town while expressing concerns at the aftereffects of Sheesha smoking said that it could cause diseases like cancer or other ailments. Shahla, an NGO worker, alleged that as the influential people were running Sheesha houses therefore the authorities were unable to take action. People termed the increased use of water pipe smoking among the most vulnerable groups as alarming and urged a complete ban on Sheesha houses and smoking.
She said that Sheesha should be subjected to the same regulations as cigarettes and other tobacco products and it should contain health warnings. She added that the restaurants should inform their clients of the actual contents of Sheesha and media should be involved in creating awareness against the hazards of Sheesha smoking.
Awareness sessions against the hazards of Sheesha smoking and other substance abuses should be made a regular feature in all educational institutions, she said and added that surveys should be conducted to assess the extent of the problem and its prevalence in our society.
When The Post talked with Punjab Law Minister Rana Sana Ullah about imposing restriction on Sheesha smoking, he said that presently it was not an unlawful act and considered as a type of smoking and legal action could not taken against the Sheesha Houses being run in the city until the assembly introduced a law to restrict this practice.
It is notable here that a recent World Health Organization says, tobacco is one of the most addictive substances available in the world and the life spans of tobacco users can be cut down by 15 to 20 years.