The Senate Standing Committee on National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination has suggested lifting the ban on sheesha in Pakistan.
Senator Mian Muhammad Ateeq, who is head of the committee, said on SAMAA TV’s programme Naya Din that before the ban, only young adults smoked sheesha but now they bring sheesha home, which results in other family members indirectly smoking it.
People in developed countries are also smoking sheesha so why is Pakistan banning it, he asked. When it comes to implementing rules and regulations in Pakistan, sheesha cafés are still opened illegally in Karachi’s posh areas, he said. Even if we conduct a raid, they still manage to reopen the next day, he said. Because of this we have considered lifting the ban on sheesha bars, explained Senator Ateeq.
The committee has suggested legalizing sheesha centres once again and ensuring representation of the tobacco industry in the committee. He said that according to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision, they want to shift Pakistan’s black economy towards documented economy. Because of this ban, we are unable to collect any taxes on sheesha, he said.
The All Pakistan Café and Restaurant Association also thinks that ban on sheesha should be removed as the government is unable to benefit from the sale of sheesha. Talha Iqbal, a representative of the association, said if a restaurant sells 50 sheeshas a day and a tax of Rs100 is imposed per sheesha, in a day it will add up to Rs5,000. In a month it will add up to Rs150,000 and in a year the government could earn more than a million rupees from this business, he said.