The Kenya Tobacco Control Alliance has called on the Health Ministry to make ban on shisha smoking official through law.
The lobby through their chairperson Joel Gitali yesterday said even the the ban on shisha smoking is in force, the ministry has limited time to follow the due process in making the ban official as directed by the court.
According to Gitali, traders and manufacturers went to court to challenge the ban. The court on July 27 however upheld the ban but noted the ministry did not follow the right procedure.
It gave the ministry nine months to do so but the order is yet to be effected. The nine months period is expected to elapse in April this year.
“The ministry is supposed to do a public participation and come up with a law on the ban within the stipulated time to make it official. Should the nine months elapse, someone can challenge the ban and the court can reverse it,” Gitali said.
Smokers suffered a major blow on December 28, 2017, when the then Health CS Cleopa Mailu banned it, saying its consumption had encouraged the peddling of hard drugs.
Despite the ban, most smokers are still using shisha behind the scenes.
“We are concerned that if this is not done, it will pose a serious threat to the efforts the country has mage,” Gitali said.
According to the chairperson, as every Kenyan is focusing on the Big four agenda which includes universal health coverage, the country should not afford to slow down in the fight against tobacco use.
“Tobacco is the major risk factor and cause of the rising non communicable diseases in the country. We therefore hope that work together to safeguard our gains,” he said.
Gitali also called on the ministry to constitute a working Tobacco Control Board, adding that failure to have one is not only unfair but also goes against the spirit of the tobacco control Act 2007.
“We reckon that these unnecessary delays in constituting the board and operationalising of the tobacco control fund are not only retrogressive but also frustrating the tobacco control fraternity,” Gitali added.
Shisha smoking has been linked to lung and oral cancers, heart disease and other serious illnesses.
This is because it delivers about the same amount of nicotine as cigarette smoking does, possibly leading to tobacco dependence.
The shisha flavours can easily be laced with hard drugs sometimes without the knowledge of the smoker.