Mailu: Why I banned shisha in Kenya
Health Cabinet Secretary Dr. Cleopa Mailu has asked the court to dismiss the case challenging shisha ban claiming that consumption of the product in Kenya has been found to be a gateway to consumption of other hard drugs such as heroin.
In his responses filed in court, Mailu says that he exercised his powers under Section 36(m) of the Public Health Act when he imposed the ban on importation, sale, advertisement, promotion and distribution of shisha in Kenya.
“The manufacture, importation, distribution, sale and the consumption of shisha is not licensed in Kenya,” reads the court documents.
The Health CS says that the decision to ban shisha is not based on “biasness, unreasonable or bad faith” as alleged by the petitioners. Mailu says that the decision was based on the greater public interest of protecting and enforcing public health from harmful effects and practices associated with shisha consumption.
The CS argues that from available statistics, the use of shisha has revealed severe acute and chronic health effects on consumers and exposed non consumers.
The CS further attached a copy of an advisory note on water pipe smoking published by WHO. The report observes that shisha contains nicotine which is a highly addictive substance.
Mailu also claims that the report observes that the smoke emanated by burning and consuming shisha contains chemicals that are harmful to non-users who work in areas where shisha is sold.
In the documents, the CS says that the Ministry of Health has taken steps to create awareness and educate the public on the effects of smoking shisha with a view to protect their health.
The CS further says none of the applicants have demonstrated that they are licensed by any regulatory authority in Kenya.
“The ban is purely driven by public health interest which is the golden thread that runs through all the laws cited,” adds Mailu.
On his part, the Director of Medical Services in the Ministry of Health, Dr Jackson Kioko, says that shisha affects all parts of the human body particularly the vital organs such as brain, lungs, heart attacks and blockage of arteries.
“Non-communicable diseases including cancer, high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, asthma, bronchitis and derangements of metabolism of fat and sugar are transmitted from one person to another through shisha smoking,” says Dr. Kioko.