A section of Mombasa residents have lauded the government’s move to ban the sale and smoking of shisha in Kenya.
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.
A section of Mombasa residents now say they have welcomed the government’s move to ban shisha, given “it will – to a significant extent – cut cancer deaths in Kenya”.
A Mombasa resident, who spoke in confidence, said: “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.”
Even as quotas of Mombasa residents continue to laud the government for outlawing the use and sale of shisha, entertainment joints’ owners have frowned upon the move, saying it will significantly reduce their revenue streams and even put the jobs of some of their employees at risk.
Douglas Mutua, the manager of Natives Sports Bar & Grill restaurant located on Thika Road in Nairobi told eDaily that shisha sale contributes to 10 to 15 per cent of the total revenue generated by the entertainment joint every month. He further revealed that the entertainment joint has five outlets, which have employed three shisha sellers at each branch. He warns that the 15 employees hired to run shisha business at the entertainment outlets under the Natives Sports Bar & Grill umbrella will lose their jobs should a crackdown on the ban be launched.
“During the political season, the sale of shisha contributed to 7 per cent of our total revenue. On ordinary days, the sale of shisha would go up, accounting for 10 to 15 per cent of our total revenue,” said Mr Mutua.
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.”
Research shows the use of shisha could expose one to numerous 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.