Sitting in your favourite bar or pub in Bengaluru, sipping on a pint of beer and smoking at the same time will not be possible anymore. According to a directive from the Excise Department, smoking in pubs and bars with open-air and semi-open air settings are prohibited.
Pubs and bars, instead, can have designated smoking rooms, which are in compliance with the COTPA (Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act. These smoking rooms have to be approved by the local civic body, too.
This directive is aimed to make pubs, bars and restaurants smoke-free and thus prevent secondhand.
The Excise Department has issued a circular to this effect in March, stating that failure to comply with this rule will result in stringent action from the department. The circular has asked these establishments to obtain a ‘no objection certificate’ (NOC) from the respective civic bodies.
Dr Manoranjan Hegde, the Chief Health Officer of BBMP, told TNM, “The smoking rooms have to be in isolated corners and there should be separate entries and exits. The designated smoking room cannot have any shared ventilation with the service area of the establishment. Food and drinks cannot be served there.”
Saying that bars and pubs should have designated smoking zones as per COTPA Act, he added, “They must apply for NOC online. We will inspect them and issue a NOC. After the elections are over, we will definitely take action against errant bars and pubs under Sections 4, 5 and 7 of COTPA Act.”
Apart from COTPA guideline, officials in the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) said that the NOC will be issued is the room does not pose any fire safety hazard.
Officials in the Excise Department said that the latest circular was issued after the BBMP failed to reign in the pubs and bars to follow its smoking ban in public places.
The BBMP’s action was based on a Directorate of Municipal Administration circular, which said that establishments having a seating capacity of 30 or more should have designated smoking zones as per COTPA and the Karnataka Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-smokers Health Act.
Speaking to TNM, Minister of Urban Development UT Khader, who was heading the Directorate of Municipal Administration then, said that the government will explore all ways to reduce the effect of smoking on non-smokers.
“Smoking is injurious to health but passive smokers get affected without any fault of their own. Our decision and steps are based on creating awareness and preventing the ill-effects of secondhand smoking,” he said.