Health Cabinet Secretary Mailu has banned the importation, manufacture, advertising and sale of shisha in Kenya.
In a gazette notice, CS Mailu said any person who will contravene any provisions of these rules will be liable to penalty contemplated in section 163 of the Public Health Act.
“No person shall import, manufacture, sell, offer for sale, use, advertise, promote, facilitate or encourage shisha smoking in Kenya, “read part of the gazette notice.
Shisha includes tobacco products that may be flavoured or non-flavoured that are consumed using a single or multi-stemmed smoking instrument that contains water or other liquid through which the smoke passes before reaching the smoker and which the smoke passes before reaching the smoker and whose syrup tobacco content includes molasses, honey vegetable, glycerol and fruit flavours including apple, grape, lemon and mint.
A former anti-drug agency boss John Mututho had called upon Government to ban shisha in Kenya after Rwanda’s move.
John Mututho said the increase in shisha consumption was alarming and that a number of school-going children were addicted to the substance.
He said shisha may be a gateway to other addictive substances such as cannabis and heroin, with their exact ingredients not being revealed due to poor labelling.
Early December, Rwandan government banned the use, advertisement, and importation of water pipe tobacco smoking commonly referred to as shisha, saying it was "addictive, dangerous and damaging" to human lives.
Health experts in Mombasa have raised concerns on rapidly growing prevalence of shisha smoking, especially among school-going children in Mombasa.
The county government had vowed to snuff out shisha smoking dens citing among its concerns, uncertainty about the quality of the substance being smoked.
On December 1, the Tobacco Control Board (TCB) also expressed fear that proceeds from the substance sale could be financing criminal gangs.
TCB board member, Dr Somba Kivunga, said statistics indicate that 600,000 of 2 million smokers in the country are in Mombasa. Shisha smoking was rated as most popular among the youth.
“Mombasa is actually the third in tobacco smoking in the country. Our biggest concern is the unregulated and shisha smoking in the county,” said Dr Kivunga.
Recently, the National Authority for Campaigns Against Drug Abuse (Nacada) also raised a red flag on the emergence of shisha hookers, a pen-like device that can be smoked in local schools without being noticed.
The pen-like device is electronically charged and has a refiner that can be used to smoke without anyone noticing. Dr Kivunga has called for a multi-sectorial approach to combat illegal import of cigarette and shisha amid growing concern over the influx of contraband cigarette into the county.