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Kenya joins Rwanda, Tanzania in shisha ban

Kenya has banned the smoking of water-pipe tobacco popularly known as shisha.

The Health minister, Cleopa Mailu, in a gazette notice on Thursday barred the importation, manufacture, advertising and sale of shisha in the country.

According to the legal notice, anyone found guilty of contravening the ban faces a Ksh50,000 (about $500) penalty or a six-month jail term or both. A further Ksh1,000 ($10) will be fined for each day a person infringes the law.

“No person shall import, manufacture, sell, offer for sale, use, advertise, promote, facilitate or encourage shisha smoking in Kenya,” Dr Mailu said in the notice.

Kenya becomes the third East African country to ban shisha smoking after Tanzania and Rwanda in the last two years. Other countries with similar practice include Pakistan, Jordan Singapore and Saudi Arabia.

The Director of Medical Services Jackson Kioko said: “Our decision for the ban is informed by all aspects… from social to health and is also guided by scientific evidence of the negative impact of smoking shisha.”

Shisha smoking is popular among youth and women in Africa.

The water-pipe tobacco contains herbs, fruit flavours or molasses and is smoked using a single or multi-stemmed tube by several people.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) in a recent report revealed that smoking shisha poses grave health risks.

“Cigarette smokers typically take eight to 12 cigarettes with a 40 to 75 millimetre puffs and inhale 0.5 to 0.6 litres of smoke. [This is] 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,” WHO said.

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