The country's shisha bars will come under regular monitoring for the first time as shisha has newly been added to the Narcotics Control Act-2018.
The decision came at a meeting recently held at the headquarters of the Department of Narcotics Control, presided over by Md Mokabbir Hossain, secretary to the securities service division of the home ministry.
At the meeting, Mokabbir asked the narcotics department to collect a sample from selling points of shisha bars and examine in its own labs whether ingredients are within the regulation.
They have decided to check if shisha bars are mixing Yaba and new drug Ice with shisha, which is illegal, a senior executive of the Narcotics Department said.
According to the Narcotics Control Act 2018, the range of nicotine in shisha items will not exceed 0.2%.
The item has newly been included in the act, but there is no policy has been formulated to mandate acquiring a licence or permission from the authorities concerned to sell shisha.
The Narcotics Department is supposed to check ingredients – if any other drug is mixed with shisha, but there is no monitoring since shisha was included under the amended act.
Although the use of shisha is rising in cafés and restaurants in Dhaka city, there is no information about how many bars and restaurants are selling shisha, said another senior executive of the narcotics department.
When contacted, Muhammed Ahsanul Jabbar, director-general of the DNC, said shisha is now a drug item according to the amended act so bars will have to take a licence for selling this item.
However, shisha bars are running without a licence, he said adding, "We will bring them under licencing soon.
When asked why DNC is now active to bring them under the regulation after three years of enacting the act, he said they got some complaints that some other drugs are being used in the name of shisha.
He could not give data on how many shisha bars are running at this moment in the city. He said they have so far collected samples from around 14 shisha bars.
Following an instruction that came from the meeting, the narcotics department started to collect samples from shisha bars to examine if there any other drug items are being mixed with shisha.
If samples are found exceeding the permissible range of nicotine limit or mixed with another drug, the narcotics department will move for legal action.
Using new drug Ice with shisha is growing which is a main concern for the drug authority, said a senior executive of the narcotics department.
Ice drug also known as crystal methamphetamine is a stimulant drug, which means it speeds up the messages travelling between the brain and the body. It is stronger, more addictive and therefore has more harmful side effects than the powder form of methamphetamine.
The market of Ice drug users is still very small as it is very expensive but many consignments of this drug are being seized in recent times, which means the number of users is increasing, said the narcotics executive.
In March, the DNC seized a large consignment of Ice drug worth Tk10 crore from Teknaf in Cox's Bazar.
In a press conference over the seizure of 2kg Ice, Muhammed Ahsanul Jabbar, director-general of the DNC, claimed that there is no user of such drug yet in Bangladesh.