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Rwanda bans smoking shisha over health concerns

By Hillary Orinde | Published Fri, December 15th 2017 at 10:24, Updated December 15th 2017 at 11:06 GMT +3
Smoking shisha. The World Health Organisation has warned of possible health hazards from smoking the flavoured-tobacco, with Rwanda banning the popular pastime. [Photo: Courtesy]

If you love shisha, please do not take your smoking habits to Rwanda. We have warned you. 

Rwandese officials have met smoking flavoured tobacco frenzy across many African and Asian countries with a total ban.

The ministry of health in Rwanda has outlawed the importation, advertising and smoking of shisha within its territory over health concerns.

In a public notice effective December 15, 2017, the ministry warns of sanctions to those who will flout the ban on shisha popularly known as water-pipe tobacco smoking.

“…shisha tobacco smoking is damaging, addictive and dangerous on human lives. The smoke that emerges from a water-pipe contains numerous toxicants known to cause lung cancer, heart diseases, just to name a few,” reads the  communication from the Minister for Health Dr Diane Gashumba.

Worse than cigarette

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Recently, World Health Organisation (WHO) in an advisory note to regulators revealed that smoking shisha posed grave health risks as shisha smokers in a single session would inhale smoke of 100 or more cigarettes.

“Cigarette smokers typically take eight to 12 cigarettes with a 40 to 75 millimeter puffs and inhaled 0.5 to 0.6 litres of  smoke unlike shisha smoking sessions which typically last 20 to 80 minutes, during which the smoker may take 50 to 200 puffs which range from about 0.15 to 1 litre each,” it said.

The report would further warn of dire consequences for passive smokers who frequent dens with others smoking shisha.

“Second-hand smoke from waterpipes is a mixture of tobacco smoke in addition to smoke from the fuel applied to burn the tobacco and therefore poses a serious risk for non-smokers," it added.

Drawn to it for being ‘cool’

Patrons flocking to shisha parlours to smoke and socialise in the new craze that has earned numerous brownie points say it is harmless and a flavoured relaxing fun.

A common belief is that the risks of tobacco are reduced since it is purified as it passes through the water.

On the contrary, WHO insists that even after it has been passed through water, the smoke produced contains high levels of toxic compounds, including carbon monoxide, heavy metals and cancer-causing chemicals.

Rwanda has joined Tanzania, Pakistan, Jordan, Singapore and Saudi Arabia in banning the pastime.


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