Former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale has lauded the government’s move to outlaw the smoking and sale of shisha in Kenya.
Taking to his official Twitter page (@KBonimtetezi), which has over 171, 500 followers, the ex-Kakamega senator said the habit of shisha smoking had become deeply entrenched in society to an extent legislators, who should be coming up with laws to protect the citizens against ‘costly’ recreational activities, were the ones engaging in the habit.
Referring to a December 28 Citizen Digital article headlined: “Health CS Cleopa Mailu bans smoking and sale of Shisha in Kenya”, Mr Khalwale tweeted: “Good riddance! I once upon a time found a female Kenyan MP in a Malindi hotel smoking and choking under the clouds of shisha! That is how far this thing has gone.”
When eDaily inquired from Mr Khalwale whether he reached out to the female MP and made her aware of the negative effects of smoking shisha, he said: “When one goes to a gathering which has female Christian ministers, and you find them taking tea, would you be able to convince them, let alone tell them that tea is unhealthy? Not possible at all. I would not have achieved that kind of a moral high ground because people make personal choices. So, why would I call out a leader who has chosen a particular path and start advising her? It would be disrespectful of me. Though, it is true what I tweeted took place. And I am happy that the Health CS has taken that move – to ban shisha – because this thing was going to mess with our youth. Not many of our youth know that shisha is adulterated. It is obvious.”
Mr Khalwale’s sentiments, lauding the government for imposing a ban on shisha, mirror those of a section of Mombasa residents, who equally welcomed the move, saying the move “will – to a significant extent – cut cancer deaths in Kenya”.
A Mombasa resident, who spoke in confidence, told eDaily: “I welcome the government’s move to ban the sale and use of shisha in Kenya. The move will help reduce the number of health issues arising from the smoking of shisha. We’ve seen shisha users developing cancer and several other illnesses. In short, the move is highly-welcomed.”
Another resident, a businessman in the coastal city, said: “It is good the ban on shisha use has been issued. Now what lies ahead is implementation of the ban. I hope the government will take seriously the task of implementation. The few cancer treatment facilities we have in the country are already overstretched by the ever-increasing number of cancer patients. There are a few wealthy people, who will smoke shisha, and when they develop cancer, they’ll be flown to foreign nations for treatment, a majority of Kenyans do not have such vast financial resources. I urge the government to be thorough in cracking down on those who will contravene the ban on shisha use.”
In a Legal notice dated December 27, Health Cabinet Secretary Dr. Cleopa Mailu said 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.”
The Director of Medical Services Jackson Kioko confirmed the ban on shisha use and sale, saying their decision was informed by the negative social and health effects of smoking shisha, which he says have been supported by scientific evidence.