Rwanda Bans Shisha – The government of Rwanda has banned smoking of water-pipe tobacco, popularly known as shisha. In a public notice dated, 14/12/2017, the government also censored advertisements, as well as merchandising of the substance.
This makes Rwanda the second country in Africa to ban shisha smoking after Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli imposed the ban in July last year. Other countries with similar bans are Pakistan, Jordan, Singapore and Saudi Arabia.
The Ministry of Heath in Rwanda also banned Shisha importation within Rwanda’s territory over health concerns. According to the notice, Shisha smoking is damaging, addictive and dangerous to human lives. The communication from Health Minister Diane Gashumba said:
“The smoke that emerges from a water-pipe contains numerous toxicants known to cause lung cancer, heart diseases, just to name a few.”
The ministry also issued warnings of sanctions to those who flout the ban. Shisha smoking has become increasingly popular among young people in Africa, including in Kenya.
Rwanda Bans Shisha – What are Its Health Risks?
Shisha is a glass-bottomed water pipe in which fruit-flavoured tobacco is covered with foil and roasted with charcoal. It goes by several names including hookah tobacco, maassel, narghile and argileh and comes in several flavours including fruity, minty, rich and creamy.
The highly toxic tobacco substance is smoked using a hookah (waterpipe). The tobacco smoke passes through a water chamber and is inhaled deeply and slowly; the fruit-flavoured tobacco tastes smooth and smells sweet, enthusiasts say, making it an enjoyable and unrushed experience.
Some say it originated from India, while some others say Persia or Turkey. Shisha smoke is associated with increased risk of disease including cancer, heart disease, lung disease and many other deadly ailments. It also causes problems during pregnancy among female smokers.
According to health experts, the side effects may not be immediately noticeable but just like cigarettes, the harmful fumes slowly damage certain parts of the body of a shisha smoker over time.
A common belief is that the risks of tobacco are reduced since it is purified as it passes through the water.
But WHO insists that even after it has been passed through water, the smoke produced contains high levels of toxic compounds including carbon monoxide, heavy metals, and cancer-causing chemicals.