Home OPINIONS Tobacco and Miraa are the major gateways to drug abuse in Kenya

Tobacco and Miraa are the major gateways to drug abuse in Kenya

By Joel Gitali

The introduction of Shisha, oral nicotine pouches, e-cigarettes and other novel products has worsened the situation, globally, and specifically in Kenya.


The government of Kenya has been reluctant in implementing and enforcing tobacco control policies, including the WHO- Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, and the Protocol on Elimination of Illicit Tobacco Trade across the border.

Oral nicotine pouches are now all over the country, unregulated. They are flavoured to attract the youth and children. The government is sort of in slumberland as children of Kenya sink into addiction.

Leaders have continued to feign ignorance for political expedience as miraa continues to destroy thousands of lives.

Together with alcohol, these seemingly legal substances open doors to thousands, if not millions of our youth into the world of drug abuse.

Our porous borders, corruption, impunity and laxity of those in authority are to blame. Some of these goods enter thru our ports and other legal routes manned by our own officers. We need action.

It’s disheartening to learn that addictive and harmful products such as tobacco/ oral nicotine pouches and alcohol have not been touched in this year’s budget. This is insensitivity on the part of the government. There should be a proper plan of implementing / enforcing our policies and being alert to avert pandemics.

We can’t be talking of problems of mental health and a host of NCDs that can be prevented as we promote behaviour that leads to the same. If we do not deal with tobacco, miraa, oral nicotine pouches, e-cigarettes, alcohol and cannabis, our fight against drug abuse and illegal trafficking will remain rhetorical. Speeches by those Co NJ concerned will not cure the problem. Action will.

The author is the Chairman of Kenya Tobacco Control Alliance (KETCA)

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