A demonstration against the use of sheesha smoking was organised by an NGO on Thursday at the Liberty roundabout on Thursday.
A bold placard warned: “One hour of sheesha smoking is equivalent to smoking 100 to 200 cigarettes”.
Another one was more visual: “Wrinkles appear on the face of sheesha smokers from the age of 20”.
Protestors stopped cars and distributed brochures which read: “Use of sheesha causes throat cancer,” among many other intense warnings.
While some restaurants and cafes continue to serve sheesha – notwithstanding the crackdown against its use which was launched in May this year – an NGO named The Consumer Forum extended their support to the efforts of the city government against sheesha smoking.
More than 72 sheesha cafes around the city have been raided and around 1,500 hookahs have been confiscated. According to the police eight FIRs have been filed against cafes not following orders.
The Restaurant and Cafe Association of Punjab (RCAP) also tried to negotiate with DCO Noorul Amin Mengal, proposing alternatives including outdoor smoking and designated enclosures. Their proposals have been turned down.
There was a lively demonstration and brochures were distributed amongst the people driving through the square to spread awareness about the harm of sheesha smoking.
One brochure read: “The perception that smoke gets cleaner on passing through water in a hookah is false”.
One of the dentists at the demonstration said that oral infections and mouth cancer were two of the many hazards of sheesha smoking.
The Consumer Forum’s Vice Chairman Mohsin Bhatti said that their organisation appreciated the measures taken by the city government. However, he said that authorities needed to intensify these efforts and enforce a comprehensive ban on smoking.
He said while the crackdown by authorities against sheesha smoking continued, so did the efforts of businesses to moonlight. He hoped that the demonstration would encourage the city government to continue with its efforts.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 7th, 2012.