Govt to ban shisha smoking

KAMPALA. Parliament is working on a Bill that among other things wants smoking of Shisha [Hookah] banned.

Shisha smoking, the latest fad for the middle-class and the youth, is a brand of smoking where tobacco is flavoured using water. The team that is currently drafting Uganda’s Tobacco Control Bill (TCB) intends to produce an avalanche of laws that will effectively ban Shisha smoking as well as providing guidelines for tobacco smokers. “We have proposed that we ban it before it becomes widespread,” said Dr Sheila Ndyanabangi, the Ministry of Health’s Focal Person Tobacco Control, said on Saturday.

“We want to save lives,” Dr Ndyanabangi said in Kampala during a meeting organised by the Uganda National Health Consumers Organisation to raise awareness of the dangers associated with tobacco.According to experts, this brand of smoking also affects non-smokers since those smoking exhale some smoke that is released later.The World Health Organisation says on average 37 people in Uganda die everyday due to tobacco-related illness such as lung cancer.Unfortunately, according to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, the number of young males who smoke has increased from 12 in every 100 (2001 figure) to 19 in every 100 (2011) young males.

Also, the number of young female smokers has increased from 11 to 15 in every 100 female youth.Health experts attribute the increases to the belief among some youth that smoking is “cool”.

However, the increase in the number of young female smokers is believed to have been spurred by the belief that smoking is a sign of equality, according to experts. The increase is also premised on the aggressive marketing conducted by tobacco companies.

Dr Possy Mugyenyi, the manager of the Centre for Tobacco Control in Africa, said the increase is a health burden.“In 15 years the current group of smokers will be at the cancer institute not as doctors but as patients,” said Dr Mugyenyi.According to the Tobacco Control Journal (2013), it is estimated that the percentage of smokers would have increased to 30 per cent by 2030 if Africa does not find ways through which it can effectively discourage tobacco smoking. Recently, Dr Chris Baryomunsi, the Member of Parliament for Kinkizi East, tabled a Bill in Parliament that seeks to control tobacco use.

According to the World Bank, for every Shs2,565 the government receives from the tobacco sales, it parts with Shs7, 695 treating those with tobacco-related illnesses.

Not doing well on tobacco controlAccording to Dr Chris Baryomunsi, Uganda is not doing well in terms of tobacco control, which calls for concerted efforts in regards to regulating the usage of tobacco smoking, especially among the youth.

SOURCE: DAILY MONITOR

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