Shisha traders, users and players in the entertainment industry have urged the government to lift the ban on the sale and use of the commodity.
Speaking at a stakeholders’ meeting on shisha ban at Castle Royal Hotel in Mombasa, on Thursday, the traders and users termed the ban as punitive, saying that it had led to loss of jobs.
“The government should regulate the issue licenses to shisha traders instead of issuing a blanket ban. The ban has affected our businesses,” Mr Mohamed Mohammed a former importer said.
Mombasa businessman Zakaria Juneid said that despite using shisha for more than 10 years, he has not had any health issues.
“Shisha smoking started in Kenya in the 1990s, why ban it in 2017? If it is dangerous, we need a rehabilitation centres for those affected. We want fairness, if it is about taxes, let the government impose it on importers and users,” Mr Juneid said.
Health ministry officials, however, defended the ban saying it was implemented due to public demand.
Chief Public Health Officer at the Ministry of Health Pauline Ngari urged county governments to help in getting rid of shisha.
Senior police officers at the meeting said shisha users had connived new tactics.
“People have become smart, they are buying shisha and smoking it from the comfort of their homes in Mombasa and Malindi. Revellers are smoking shisha in gated communities,” said an officer who did not wish to be named.
LOW BIRTH RATE
“Nobody has licensed the sale of shisha,” said Ms Ngari who urged traders to consider the health of Kenyans instead of their businesses.
“In Nairobi the raids and campaigns are ongoing. There are challenges, traders are using tricks to sell shisha at night but we urge counties to deal with those violating the ban,” said Ms Ngari.
She mentioned low birth rate, exposure to cancer as among dangers of using shisha. She said that the Health ministry was aware that some high end joints were still selling the drug. Ms Ngari said nobody is allowed to import, sell or buy shisha.
The official said that the Health ministry would mobilise law enforcers, county governments and other players to enforce the ban.