Shanzu court overturns shisha ban as unconstitutional

Court rules ban on shisha unconstitutional. [Standard, File]

A Shanzu court has ruled the country’s ban on shisha as unconstitutional.

Senior Principal Magistrate Joe Mkutu declared on Thursday, 28 March, that there was “no valid or lawful ban” on the use, manufacture, sale, or offer for sale of shisha in the country.

Cabinet Secretary for Health was found to have failed to comply with a 2018 High Court ruling.

This ruling directed the Health Secretary to regularise the Public Health (Control of Shisha) smoking rules of 2017 by forwarding them to Parliament for approval.

In the 2018 ruling, Justice Roselyn Aburili found that the shisha ban imposed by then Health Secretary Cleopa Mailu through a gazette notice dated 28 December 2018 was irregular. However, she allowed it to remain in force.

The Health Minister was given a period of nine months to regularise the ban by following the procedural requirements, which included consideration of the ban by Parliament.

Following the lapse of the nine-month period issued by Justice Aburili, Magistrate Mkutu declared the ban ceased to be operational.

Mkutu further declared that there was no valid shisha ban under the rules gazetted in 2017 at the time the accused committed the alleged offence on 14 January 2024.

“With profound respect, I drastically disagree with the prosecution, particularly on the view that the shisha ban remains in force even after non-compliance by the Cabinet Secretary,” ruled the Magistrate.

The Magistrate set free 48 individuals who had been arrested and charged for selling and smoking shisha in January 2024.

The accused persons in the consolidated matters were charged with offences under the Public Health (Control of Shisha Smoking) Rules 2017.

“Each of the 48 accused persons in the four consolidated files shall be set at liberty forthwith unless otherwise lawfully detained,” she said.