Experts debunk shisha myths
BY ALLY JAMAH
Updated Monday, March 2nd 2015 at 22:05 GMT +3
The Ministry of Health, through the Tobacco Control Board (TCB), has revealed that contrary to the widespread beliefs, shisha does not contain less tobacco than cigarettes and is in fact more dangerous.
“Some Kenyans imagine that since tobacco is passed through water in shisha pipes, toxins are filtered out making the smoke healthier. But this is not the case,” said Public Health Director and TCB Secretary Kepha Ombacho.
Dr Ombacho said many Kenyans had been led to wrongly believe that fruity flavours of shisha make it more healthy than cigarettes, with some shisha brands being sold as “herbal” to fool unsuspecting people about their non-existent health benefits.
“It is such myths that are leading many unsuspecting Kenyans to take up shisha smoking as a recreational activity despite the huge health dangers they are putting themselves in. Others imagine that smoking shisha is not as addictive as smoking cigarettes while some think it is healthier than smoking cigarettes,” he said.
By measuring the levels of toxins in the blood, breath and urine after smoking shisha, scientists found that those who smoked it exposed themselves to high levels of dangerous substances like carbon monoxide, tar and nicotine.
As a result, the board has asked county governments to crack down on shisha joints. Ombacho said the sale of flavoured tobacco contravenes the Tobacco Control Act.
“The law provides that no tobacco product shall be promoted by any means which may be misleading or deceptive,” he said.
Institute for Legislative Affairs Chief Executive Officer Vincent Kimosop called for the quick adoption of the tobacco regulations to give the Tobacco Control Board robust mandate to deal with tobacco use in the country.
He cautioned that illegal shisha bars were on the rise in Kenya, especially in Nairobi, Coast and North Eastern regions. Shisha is largely imported from Dubai or Egypt.