Operators, users sue Health CS over shisha ban

Written By: Victor Muyakane
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An association of shisha operators and smokers has sued Health Cabinet Secretary Dr Cleopa Mailu for making an irregular decision in banning shisha use in Kenya.

However, their petition to have the shisha ban reversed was thrown out of court.

This comes as public opinion remains divided on the move that is set to shake the recreation industry especially during this festive season.

A lawsuit filed by a group of 15 shisha traders and smokers against Health Cabinet Secretary Dr. Cleopa Mailu is set to be heard on the 4th of January approximately a week after he implemented a ban on the selling and consumption of the product in the country.

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They argue that the legal notice issued by the health cabinet secretary was erroneous and discriminatory.

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Hotelier and National Tourism Federation chair Mohammed Hersi approves of the ban citing heath risks  but admits that the loss of employment and profits is regrettable.

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But avid shisha smokers are adamant that the ban is draconian, sentiments shared by former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga on his twitter handle.

A spot-check on popular shisha joints reveals they are closed to business perhaps in adherence to the directive.

Researchers opine that the health risk of shisha use is extreme, with smoke inhaled in a single shisha smoking session said to be the equivalent of smoking 100 cigarettes.

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On Thursday, the Ministry of Health banned the importation, manufacture, distribution, sale and use of shisha in Kenya.

In a special notice in the Kenya Gazzette dated Wednesday 28th December 2017, Cabinet Secretary for Health Cleopa Mailu said no person shall be allowed to promote, facilitate or encourage the smoking of shisha in Kenya.

The CS further said that any person contravening the directive would be penalized.

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