Fifteen business people have moved to court to overturn a shisha ban effected by the Government on Thursday.
In a petition filed at the High Court on Friday (29/12/17), the sellers claimed that the Health Cabinet Secretary Dr Cleopa Mailu acted outside his powers in effecting the ban on Shisha.
“Shisha is a product of tobacco just like cigarettes. The most we expected from the CS was to direct that the use of shisha should be in designated areas.
“The stakeholders were never consulted in arriving at the decision to ban shisha; there was no any form of public participation. The regulations carried out by the CS are erroneous and we are very hopeful that the court will agree with us that he acted outside the law and that the legal notice cannot stand,” said lawyer Eric Matundura.
On Thursday (28/12/17), Health Cabinet Secretary 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.
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.