January 22, 2020

Government bans use, sale of Shisha in Kenya

The Government through the Ministry of Health has banned the use and sale of Shisha in Kenya.

On Thursday (28/12/17), Health Cabinet Secretary Dr Cleopa Mailu banned importation, manufacture and sale of the substance.

Dr Mailu warned that culprits would be liable to penalty under section 163 of Public Health Act.

“No person shall import, manufacture, sell, offer for sale, use, advertise, promote, facilitate or encourage shisha smoking in Kenya, “read part of the Gazette Notice.

The move comes hours after former NACADA chairman John Mututho challenged the Government to emulate Rwanda and ban use of shisha in the country.

Mututho said its use could lead to the spread of infectious diseases like tuberculosis and hepatitis.

He said shisha plays a potential role as a gateway to other drugs such as bhang and heroin.

The Health CS had earlier said discussions on the ban, with various Government departments, were ongoing.

“We are contemplating banning shisha…we will definitely do that. We are in discussions with the Attorney General (Githu Muigai) on developing the legislation. The document being circulated online was probably being prepared for my signature but it’s not final and we are not yet there,” he said.

Kenya Tobacco Control Alliance lauded the health ministry saying the move meant uniformity in the fight against drug and substance abuse.

“We are very happy and hope implementation will be done fully because we have had cases where laws are passed but not enforced. Counties should pick this up because health is devolved. We will inform those concerned and educate the public on why the action was taken,” KTCA chairman Joel Gitali said.

Rwanda outlawed the importation, advertising and smoking of shisha within its territory over health concerns on December 15.

In a public notice, her ministry warned of sanctions to those who would flout the ban on the substance popularly known as water-pipe tobacco smoking.

Recently, World Health Organisation (WHO) revealed that smoking shisha posed grave health risks as shisha smokers in a single session would inhale smoke of 100 or more cigarettes.

“Cigarette smokers typically take eight to 12 cigarettes with a 40 to 75 millimeter puffs and inhaled 0.5 to 0.6 litres of smoke unlike shisha smoking sessions which typically last 20 to 80 minutes, during which the smoker may take 50 to 200 puffs which range from about 0.15 to 1 litre each,” it said.

The report would further warn of dire consequences for passive smokers.

“Second-hand smoke from waterpipes is a mixture of tobacco smoke in addition to smoke from the fuel applied to burn the tobacco and therefore poses a serious risk for non-smokers,” it pointed out.

Kenya joins Rwanda, Tanzania, Pakistan, Jordan, Singapore and Saudi Arabia in banning the substance.

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