The Health ministry has insisted that the ban on smoking of water-pipe tobacco, popularly known as shisha, is still in force.
“This is to bring to the public knowledge that legal notice No. 188 of 28th December, 2017, Shisha Ban in Kenya, is still on and should be complied with in total as was intended from 28th December,” said the director of public health, Dr Kepha Ombacho.
The ministry’s notice comes after 15 people believed to be among importers, manufacturers, sellers, promoters and users of shisha in the country moved to court in response to Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu’s ban.
Justice John Mativo declined to temporarily lift the ban. He, however, directed the 15 applicants, who had sought orders to lift the ban, to file the main case and serve the CS and the Attorney-General with court papers before the hearing on January 4.
“Lies that the ban was lifted by our courts are mischievous, unfounded and are not based on facts,” added Dr Ombacho.
He called on officers enforcing the ban to “enhance surveillance to ensure total compliance”.
“Anybody or persons found not complying should be subjected to necessary actions as provided for,” said the director.
Shisha smoking has been legal until the notice issued on Thursday by the Health CS.
The Tobacco Act of 2007 allows use of tobacco products in secluded or specified places. It does not ban the use of the product.
Through a gazette notice on last week, the government imposed a ban on the importation, manufacture, advertising and sale of shisha in the country.
“No person shall import, manufacture, sell, offer for sale, use, advertise, promote, facilitate or encourage shisha smoking in Kenya,” says the legal notice.
Dr Mailu warned that anyone found contravening the control of shisha smoking rules will be “liable to a fine not exceeding Sh50,000, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or to both”.
Although some people have opposed the ban, others, including the Kenya Network of Cancer Organisations (Kenco), welcomed it.
“Though long overdue, this is a bold and commendable action in safeguarding the health of Kenyans,” said Kenco chairman David Makumi.