Study reveals trends in shisha smoking in Nairobi despite ban

Wednesday August 07 2019

Kenya Tobacco Control Alliance chairman Joel Gitali during the launch of the Shisha Ban Compliance Study Report of Nairobi County at the Stanley Hotel in the city on August 7, 2019. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NATION MEDIA GROUP


People in Parklands and Mathare are smoking more shisha compared to those in Westlands and Kasarani in Nairobi, a study has found.

Data released by the Kenya Tobacco Control Alliance (Ketca) on Wednesday indicates that while many night clubs, bars and restaurants in Nairobi County have complied with the shisha ban introduced two years ago, an equal number are also still breaking the law.

“Overall, 82 per cent of the hospitality venues visited were found in compliance. However, there was considerable variation among the seven areas. The highest level of compliance was observed in Westlands (100 per cent),” noted Dr Salome Nyambura, a research consultant from Kenyatta University.

She spoke in Nairobi during the launch of the Shisha Ban Compliance Study Report of Nairobi County.


The non-governmental organisation conducted the survey in 200 night clubs, restaurants and bars in six areas in Nairobi - Westlands, Parklands, Kasarani, Eastlands, Lang'ata and Mathare Valley and Pipeline sub-counties.


Entertainment joints in Parklands, mostly frequented by university students, had the lowest level of compliance at 57 percent, with the shisha and/or smoking equipment hidden from prying eyes.

According to Dr Nyambura the survey found that this was the case at almost two out of every 10 nightclubs and bars.

The paraphernalia was rarely seen in restaurants.

According to the researchers, many entertainment joints in Parklands continue to break the law as they sell the products to university students frequenting their premises.


In 2017, the Health ministry banned the sale of shisha in the country, making it illegal for sale by restaurants and night clubs, which had been making a fortune from the waterpipe tobacco that is popular with young, urbane revellers.

The ban saw Kenya become the third country in East Africa to ban the smoking of shisha, after Tanzania and Rwanda.

The ban contained in a legal notice dated December 28 prohibits importation, manufacture, advertising, sale and use of shisha in commercial establishments such as restaurants and night clubs.

The government's Gazette notice warned that anyone found contravening the rules will be “liable to a fine not exceeding Sh50,000, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or both.”

On Tuesday, however, Ketca chairman Joel Gitali decried frustration by club owners opposed to the ban, saying some offer bribes in order to be allowed to continue selling the product.

Mr Gitali further said many business owners who sell shisha have gone underground.

Shisha traders, users and players in the entertainment industry have urged the government to lift the ban.