Revealed: Nairobi County Government to crack down on clubs plus wines and spirits shops selling shisha

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The Nairobi County government will soon crack down on pubs and establishments that are still selling shisha despite a ban that was effected more than five years ago, has learnt.

This is after various lobby groups complained to the county that the drug is still being smoked openly in bars and clubs thus endangering the lives who those who don’t smoke but happen to be in the same premised.

The County Public Health Chief Officer Tom Michira Nyakaba, in a letter dated January 13, directed the Head of the Tobacco Control Unit to liaise with the relevant departments to ensure compliance as anticipated under the Public Health Act, Cap 242, and the relevant tobacco control laws.

“In lieu of the correspondence from Office of The Clerk, County Assembly Ref: NCCA/SC4ISC/CORR/2022/03 (copy attached) to the County Secretary, and onward transmission to this office, you are hereby instructed to take necessary enforcement action as anticipated under the Public Health Act, Cap 242 and the relevant tobacco control laws,” he said.

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“Any person who contravenes any provision of these rules may, where a penalty has not been expressly provided for under any provision of the Act, be liable to the penalty contemplated under section 163 of the Act,” the government said during the ban announcement on December 27, 2017.

In December 2017, the then Health minister Cleopa Mailu banned shisha smoking in the country saying it had had encouraged the peddling of hard drugs.

Kenya became the fourth country in East Africa to prohibit shisha, after Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda. But even after the ban, shisha is still widely sold in the country, especially at nightclubs, and is popular among socialites and sportspersons.

Yet despite the ban, the business has spiked lucratively earning importers, distributors and club owners hundreds of thousands of shillings. Depending on the location, the cost of smoking shisha has spiked; from about Sh1,000 before the ban to between Sh2,000 and 3,000 after the ban.

Owning a pot costs roughly Sh5,000 compared to Sh3,500 before the ban. A packet of imported shisha flavour, a tobacco-filled preparation made up of nicotine, molasses, and different flavours, retails at Sh700 while coal goes for Sh300.

Additionally, the sight of shisha in most pubs is an open secret, and as a matter of fact, smokers no longer hide in “special rooms” anymore. In most night pubs along Thika road, Ngong Road, Lang’ata, Westlands, Parklands, Mombasa road and Kitengela, shisha smoking goes unabated. One-pot can serve a group of roughly five, lasting up to an hour.

Experts however warn that a single shisha session is the same as smoking hundreds of cigarettes. According to the World Health Organisation, the volume of smoke inhaled in an hour-long shisha session is estimated to be the equivalent of smoking between 100 and 200 cigarettes.

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