Shisha, hookah or waterpipe has become very popular among the youth in Africa, and a few countries have taken steps to ban its use after the World Health Organisation (WHO) outlined its lethal health effects in 2015.
The Ghana Health Service (GHS) said in 2018 that it was planning with the country’s Ministry of Health to ban shisha smoking that year.
Research officer with the GHS, Divine Darlington Logo said smoking shisha and e-cigarettes had shot up to 5.3 percent among the youth, higher than the traditional use of tobacco which stands at 2.8 percent.
“Shisha use is more harmful than cigarettes, one puff from that tube is equal to one full cigarette that you smoke,” said Divine Logo.
Ghana banned smoking in public places in 2012 following the passage of its Public Health Bill.
However, the only African countries that have banned shisha smoking are Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda.
Rwanda is the latest country to impose the ban in 2017. The East African country banned its use, advertisement and importation.
The WHO stated in a 2015 advisory note that the effect of shisha tobacco on the body is more harmful than cigarettes.
“All the studies to date indicate that, during a typical waterpipe use session, the user will draw large doses of toxicants (ranging from less than one to tens of cigarette equivalents). These toxicants have been linked to addiction, heart and lung diseases, and cancer in cigarette smokers and can result in similar outcomes in waterpipe users if these toxicants are absorbed in the body in appreciable amounts,” the reported stated.
It also noted other effects such as the intake of toxicants, acute psychological and health effects which can affect second-hand smokers as well.
“In summary, all the evidence, from studies of molecules to studies of human populations, converges towards the conclusion that waterpipe tobacco smoking causes diseases that are commonly associated with cigarette smoking, including addiction … In light of the widespread, growing use of waterpipes worldwide, firm action is necessary and justified to protect public health,” the report concluded.
The smoking of shisha tobacco is widespread in Africa as shisha bars are springing up in major cities. There is little regulation and according to the WHO research, high school students in South Africa have been caught up in the smoking of the Middle Eastern product.