Sheesha smoke: Cafe workers protest at ‘unjust’ crackdown

Published: June 12, 2012
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Hundreds of workers, most employed at sheesha cafes on The Mall, gathered at Liberty Chowk and then marched to Hussain Chowk.

Hundreds of workers, most employed at sheesha cafes on The Mall, gathered at Liberty Chowk and then marched to Hussain Chowk.

LAHORE: 

The owners and workers of several sheesha cafes protested against the city government’s crackdown on smoking in Gulberg on Monday.

Hundreds of workers, most employed at sheesha cafes on The Mall, gathered at Liberty Chowk and then marched to Hussain Chowk. They said the government’s campaign was unfair and would drive them out of business. They said that thousands of people depended on sheesha cafes for their livelihoods. The protest was organised by the Restaurant and Café Association of Punjab.

Kanwal Abbas, the owner of Dream Lounge, said that instead of stopping sheesha smoking in public, the government should stop the sale of drugs and alcohol in the city. He said city government officials had hurt their business by conducting frequent raids at cafes. He said that the city government was refusing to sit down and talk with cafe owners to reach a negotiated solution.

When announcing the campaign last month, the DCO had said that the city government’s campaign was aimed at enforcing the ban on smoking of all forms of tobacco in public places, including restaurants and bus stations, but so far only sheesha cafes have been raided.

Meanwhile at a meeting at the Town Hall, city government officials showed off 200 hookahs that had been confiscated in raids on 35 cafes. District Coordination Officer Noorul Amin Mengal said that alcohol and drugs had been found at several cafes. He said 12 cafes had been sealed and FIRs had been registered against two.

The DCO said that the city government had launched a public awareness campaign warning about the dangers of sheesha smoke. He said that action against the sheesha cafes would continue “until this menace is wiped out”. He said that sheesha cafes were “the main cause” of the spread of “unhealthy and negative activities among youth”.

Mengal said that sheesha cafes not only polluted the environment, but also “damage the new generation”.

He said that the city government had decided to act against the cafes after receiving complaints from people about them and many parents had voiced appreciation for the crackdown.

MPA Khawaja Imran Nazir said that raiding teams had found liquor, beer and “charas water” being used in hookahs at some cafes. He said that the city government’s campaign would “save the youth”. He said that after “cleansing” Lahore, the campaign would be extended to other districts.

MPA Meher Ishtiaq and officials of the Environmental Protection Department also attended the event.

Published In The Express Tribune, June 12th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (18)

  • N.Khan
    Jun 12, 2012 - 2:25AM

    First they should wipe out alcohol and drug use amongst the young generation which is very widespread.

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  • Ordinary Villager
    Jun 12, 2012 - 2:30AM

    Ok first call Sheesha as Huqqa then they should be allowed. Why Pakistanis are in inferiority complex that they want to follow Arabs and West in every manner. Huqqa have various variants and it includes a version similar to sheesha so dont get ashamed if you call it a Huqqa Lounge rather than sheesha burger lounge.

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  • concerned citizen
    Jun 12, 2012 - 3:18AM

    for this they take the streets :p and for all the other chaos that upholds the country no one bothers .. says a lot about our nation :p

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  • wahab
    Jun 12, 2012 - 9:23AM

    Smoking kills!

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  • yellow
    Jun 12, 2012 - 9:26AM

    Excellent step by the local government. Sheesha is extremely widespread and no one seems to know its contents ! Smoking 1 sheehas = Smoking 200 cigrarettes

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  • xyz
    Jun 12, 2012 - 10:19AM

    Does the DCO have nothing better to do? Apart from destroying legitimate small business owners in a recession economy, that is.

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  • TalkSensePlease
    Jun 12, 2012 - 11:20AM

    It’s true that a lot of innocent people will loose employment, which indeed is sad, but if this is how the people would respond to bans on harmful stuff, then one day drug dealers would also hold such a protest if the government really takes a strong stand to stop their dealings because that is what their livelihood depends on. Plus, 1 hour of shisha smoking session is equivalent to to smoking 100 cigarettes and passive smokers are equally affected.

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  • Anon
    Jun 12, 2012 - 11:43AM

    **Why do we have to shove everything down people’s throat? and why can’t we give people the freedom to choose what they want to do with their life or health, so long as they are not endangering the life of others. Let’s stop this un-necessary policing of everything. First, the ridiculous PTA list and now this. Let’s learn to respect people choices esp. when they are old enough to decide what they want and what they don’t.

    @ concerned citizen
    Two wrongs don’t make a right. If people don’t protest over some important issue, it’s doesn’t make it a crime if they choose to protest over something which directly effects their livelihood.**

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  • AR
    Jun 12, 2012 - 11:55AM

    @yellow:
    Another excellent step would be to go after heroin mafia which is far more destructive and happens to be active in all areas of Lahore . Decoities are on the rise and street crime is more prevalent but the local government is more interested in shutting down sheesha lounges. It’s just a cheap publicity campaign to curry favor with guilable public . If one sheesha is compared to 200 cigarettes than why are cigarettes still available in the market ? Let’s clamp down on cigarettes shops also since they are bad for health too .

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  • Jun 12, 2012 - 12:56PM

    @Anon:@xyz @ so you mean, drugs and alcohol should be allowed, because it also depend on choice after all.

    By the way, Good act by authorities and we should appreciate it. Otherwise tomorrow all drug dealers will come out like this and will say it is public choice that they want drugs and it is our business, Govt have no moral ground to stop us.

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  • stopit
    Jun 12, 2012 - 1:26PM

    Things like sheesha are a step towards drugs and alcohol. Good step by the government.

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  • stopit
    Jun 12, 2012 - 1:27PM

    @xyz:
    This is immoral, unhealthy and poisonous.

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  • m.
    Jun 12, 2012 - 3:31PM

    @yellow where do you come up with the numbers? If someone wants to smoke, its that person’s right as long as that person is over 18. Who gave you the right to decide what others should do? yes its harmful to my own health but at the same time its none of your business.

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  • Jun 12, 2012 - 10:05PM

    the society we lived in, we all have a equal responsibility for making sure our actions are towards good deeds not to create a trouble for anyone. Its true though that everyone have a right what to do and what not to but living in a society there is a limit what the maximum individual can do. This may led to other problems which will not only affect individual but pretty much everyone in the society directly or indirectly.

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  • Adnan
    Jun 13, 2012 - 12:23AM

    @concerned citizen:

    Please don’t call this crowd of people nation. Real nations would mind that.

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  • Suhaib
    Jun 13, 2012 - 12:58AM

    The step taken by government is extremely positive and will save the people from many health issues that they can have by smoking sheesha. Going forward an extremely strict action should be taken by Government to stop the sales of drugs and alcohols. Additionally sports activities should be started so that people have alternate ways of enjoying.

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  • PTIfraud
    Jul 4, 2012 - 10:47AM

    @N.Khan:
    Strange argument. Next thing you will say is to allow thieves to steal until all dacoits are caught.

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  • PTIfraud
    Jul 4, 2012 - 10:48AM

    Sheesha cafes should be banned and heavy fines imposed on the owners.

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