In a move to control the outbreak of COVID-19, the government of Delhi has prohibited the use of Hookah in public places from immediate effect, as per the latest order.
“The use of Hookah (with and without tobacco i.e., herbal hookah, water pipes, and other hookah-like devices) in all public places including hotels, restaurants, eatery houses, bars, pubs; discotheques, etc. of the NCT of Delhi is strictly prohibited with immediate effect,” the order said.
The order released by the health and family welfare department observed that the use and sharing of Hookah could lead to a further increase in the spread of COVID-19. “It is observed that in public places, use and sharing of hookah may further increase the spread of COVID-19,” it said.
The rationale behind prohibiting the hookah was that it involves sharing its mouthpieces and hoses, which could facilitate the transmission of COVID-19. Besides, as it’s smoked in closed spaces and social settings, the aerosols carrying the virus generated by an infected person could further spread the infection among people sitting firmly to the infected person.
Besides, the directive also pointed out that smokers are more vulnerable to be infected by the COVID-19 as the “act of smoking” increases the possibility of transmitting the virus from hand to mouth. “The fingers and cigarettes are in contact with lips which increase the possibility of transmission of the virus from hand to mouth,” the order said.
Medical experts also weighed in that smokers are more likely to spread the virus as smoking in public could further increase its spread in the environment. “The research suggests that the virus has been airborne. If an infected person is smoking in public, the aerosols generated by that person could infect the people present in his vicinity,” said Dr Pankaj Solanki.
Apart from being more infectious, the doctors said that health-wise, the impact of COVID-19 could be more fatal for the smokers. “Smokers may already have lung disease or reduced lung capacity, which would greatly increase the risk of serious illness. The conditions that increase oxygen needs or reduce the ability of the body to use it properly will put them at higher risk of the consequences of bilateral viral pneumonia if they get infected,” opined Dr Avinash Mohanty, an expert dealing in pulmonary diseases.
Meanwhile, the doctors also said that the government should furthermore strictly enforce restrictions on smoking in public too as an added measure to contain virus’ spread. “Despite being a public offense, the compliance authorities are very lenient on smoking in public. The challans against the violation are merely symbolic and fail to prevent people from practicing it in the public spaces,” said Dr Solanki.