Health Cabinet Secretary Dr. Cleopa Mailu has banned the importation, manufacturing, sale, use, advertisement, promotion and distribution of shisha in Kenya.
In a Legal notice dated December 27, Mr Mailu says anyone who will be found guilty of contravening the control of shisha smoking rules, where no penalty is expressly provided for such offence, will be “liable to a fine not exceeding Ksh50, 000, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or to both and, if the offence, contravention or default is of a continuing nature, to a further fine not exceeding Ksh1, 000 for each day it continues.”
CS Mailu cited Chapter 242 Section 163 of the Public Health Act, which gives powers to recognized health officers or law enforcers to conduct impromptu searches on premises, where shisha smoking or services are being offered.
Chapter 242, Section 163 of the Public Health Act says: “Any medical officer of health or health inspector, district surgeon or port health officer, or any police officer of or above the rank of Inspector, or any other person generally or specially authorized in writing by the Director of Medical Services, medical officer of health or municipal council, may, at any hour reasonable for the proper performance of the duty, enter any land or premises to make any inspection or to perform any work or to do anything which is required or authorized by this Act or any other law to do, if such inspection, work or thing is necessary for or incidental to the performance of his duties or the exercise of his powers.”
The CS, however, did not give specific reasons for banning the smoking and sale of shisha in the country, though research shows the use of shisha could expose one to health problems.
Shisha is the flavoured tobacco smoked using hookah water pipes. It is also known by other names such as: Narghile, Hubble Bubble, Goza, among others.
A hookah consists of a base, pipe, bowl and hose or a mouthpiece.
Tobacco is placed in the bowl, which is at the top of the pipe structure. An aluminium foil covers the bowl and small charcoal pieces are then placed on the foil, which is punctured using a pin to gently heat the tobacco.
When smoked using the hose; smooth, sweet-smelling vapour is filtered through the base containing water. It also comes in floral flavours such as coconut, vanilla and rose.
According to a 2014 study published in the Journal Cancer Epidemiology & Prevention, smoking shisha could make nicotine urine levels spike by more than 70 million times; also resulting in the increase of cancer-causing agents.
Quitshisha.com incorporated findings from the study with other research results and schemed the following shisha health hazards:
Due to the mode of shisha smoking—including frequency of puffing, depth of inhalation, and length of the smoking session—shisha smokers may absorb higher concentrations of the toxins found in cigarette smoke, thus increasing the hazard to the body.
Shisha, tobacco and smoke contain numerous toxic substances known to cause lung, bladder, and oral cancers.
A typical one-hour session of hookah smoking exposes the user to 100 to 200 times the volume of smoke inhaled from a single cigarette.
Shisha smoking among pregnant mothers is hazardous to the baby as well.
It could face underweight problems and breathing difficulty. Babies born to women who smoked one or more water pipes a day during pregnancy have lower birth weights than babies born to non-smokers and are at an increased risk for respiratory diseases, says Quitshisha.com.
Shisha content contains numerous toxic substances known to cause clogged arteries and heart disease.
Spread of infections
Shisha pipes used in hookah bars and cafes may not be cleaned properly, risking the spread of infectious diseases.
Infectious diseases include: tuberculosis (which can infect the lungs or other parts of the body), aspergillus (a fungus that can cause serious lung infections), and helicobacter (which can cause stomach ulcers).
They may be spread by sharing the pipe or through the way the tobacco is prepared.
Second hand smoke
Using shisha smoke poses a serious potential health hazard to smokers and others exposed to the smoke emitted.
The second hand smoke from shisha poses a serious risk for non-smokers, particularly because it contains smoke not only from the tobacco but also from the heat source (e.g., charcoal) used in the hookah.