The government’s ban on the smoking and selling of water-pipe tobacco, commonly known as shisha, could not have come at a more opportune time.
The health risks associated with smoking shisha include heart diseases, cancer and respiratory ailments. While the businesses that had invested massively in the trade have a right to bemoan the ban, the long-term benefits far outweigh those immediate losses.
Jobs will obviously be lost, but we must look at the bigger picture. The ban will help save many lives that would have been lost to shisha addiction.
We were losing many of our youth to the fad despite the health hazards.
They were easily hooked after seeing local celebrities indulge in the practice. Kenya now joins Rwanda and Tanzania as the East African countries that have imposed the ban.
Importation, manufacture, sale and distribution of shisha is now prohibited. We must, however, caution that enforcing the ban will be a huge task. Law enforcement officials should not see it as another rent-seeking opportunity to solicit for bribes.
There is need to enlighten users on the benefits of the ban. We must also ensure that we don’t drive the business underground as the ramifications will be massive.