Kenyan smokers had turned to nicotine-free e-cigarettes and oral pouches to quit smoking, according to a recent survey. But their sale was suspended by the Ministry of Health.
The survey, on behalf of Campaign for Safer Alternatives (CASA), was done on 64 users of nicotine pouches aged between 18 and 44 to measure the attitudes and impact of the current suspension imposed on sale of alternatives to nicotine products.
The survey revealed that most were worried about the dangers of smoking, a habit that kills about 30,000 people annually in Kenya, but are unable or unwilling to quit. Most thus considered pouches safer and a healthier alternative to cigarettes and which they used as part of their ‘quitting journey.’
In 2020, the Ministry of Health banned Lyft nicotine pouches after intense lobbying by anti-tobacco groups who claimed they were not pharmaceutical drugs, but instead caused serious addiction among young people besides contributing to an increase of non-communicable diseases.
Uptake of oral nicotine products was higher among men at 72 per cent while in women it stands at 28 per cent with smokers aged between 30 to 35 more likely to take oral nicotine products, majority of them urban dwellers.
Most users were self-employed or recent college and university graduates in that order followed by university dropouts.
Nairobi takes the lion’s share at 58 per cent followed by Mombasa at 11 per cent, Narok nine per cent, Kiambu five per cent and Kisumu 3 per cent.
Besides oral nicotine, shisha was also banned in Kenya, but is still being consumed in house parties and entertainment joints.