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Shisha ban still met by wild opposition

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High court judge Roselyn Aburila on Thursday refused to lift the temporary ban on the use of Shisha that was imposed by the Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu and instead asked them to file the case which was later to be presented before the Cabinet Secretary (CS) and the Attorney General, Githu Muigai.

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The 15 petitioners through their lawyer led by Victor Savula told the High court that the ban which had put their jobs at stake had also violated their constitutional rights of employees and would therefore result to loss billions in terms of revenue.

The dealer team led by Kennedy Langat Maurice Obunga, Steven Irungu, Vivian Shikweya and Henry Gitau had moved to court on the December 29 only a day after CS Mailu had imposed the ban of the use, importation and promotion of shisha products.

They lamented that the ban was not a consultative one.

The CS through a legal gazette notice had stated that those found going against the ban would be liable to pay a fine not exceeding Kshs 50,000 or imprisonment for period not less than 6months or both.

Kenya joins Tanzania and Rwanda to become the third country in Africa to outlaw the use of shisha products. Other counties such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Singapore had banned the product on ground of health concern.

The United Nation agency through the World Health Organization, had previously singled out that the rate of tobacco products pipe smoking, also known as hookah bubble, had recently increased among the college going students and youths.

According to health professionals, a single session of shisha smoking is like smoking hundred rolls of cigarettes which is health wise, dangerous.

Reports by Global Youth Tobacco survey of Virginia Commonwealth University and Syrian Center for Tobacco Studies indicate that the global tobacco epidemic can kill 10 million people annually in the next 20–30 years, with 70 percent of these deaths occurring in developing countries.

With more people developing the habit of smoking tobacco using water pipes, more recent studies are focusing on policies and treatments on the cigarette related health complications especially in developing regions such as Asia, India, and Eastern Mediterranean among others.

By George Ogallo.

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