Smoking and selling water-pipe tobacco, commonly known as shisha, will earn one a jail term of six months or a fine of Sh50, 000 after Kenya banned it.
Importation, manufacture, sale or distribution of shisha has also been prohibited through a gazette notice issued yesterday.
Kenya becomes the third country in east Africa to impose such a ban after Tanzania and Rwanda.
“Any person who contravenes any provisions of these Rules may, where a penalty has not been expressly provided for under any provision of the Act, be liable to the penalty contemplated under Section 163 of the [Public Health] Act,” says the special Kenya Gazette notice dated December 28 signed by Health Secretary Cleopa Mailu (above).
But when the tough notice became public, some businesses revealed the tidy earnings tied to shisha. In most city clubs, one “dose” of shisha sells at Sh800 while the entire pot sells at a street price of Sh5,000.
Tribeka on Nairobi’s Banda Street is one of the popular entertainment joints that sells shisha. The manager, Bill Oyoo, said majority of shisha smokers are aged between 25 and 40 years.
“A regular pot of shisha hosts six smokers. Each of these smokers uses a different pipe called a mouthpiece,” Mr Oyoo explained. “We sell most of our shisha on Thursday when we host a reggae night. Reggae fans flock the club between Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights when we make more than Sh800,000 on shisha sales.”
He says Tribeka generates monthly earnings of more than Sh3 million on shisha sales.
Where no penalty is expressly provided for such offence, the notice sais offenders are “liable to a fine not exceeding Sh50, 000, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or to both.”
Health risks associated with shisha use include heart diseases, cancer and respiratory disease.