Banned shisha still in use
The use of shisha in public places is still resurfacing its ugly head as police grapple to control the menace.
WHO described shisha as water pipe tobacco smoking – a trend that has gained prominence in The Gambia over the last couple of years.
This flavour tobacco that’s normally heated and smoked through water pipe is more popular among youngsters. Infect shisha lounges have now become a standard popular feature within entertainment spots across the country.
The ban comes as The Gambia government intensifies crackdown on tobacco in accordance with the Tobacco Control Act 2016 and Tobacco Control Regulations 2019.
A joint operation by the police, customs, public health and environmental inspectors has been launched.
Ebrima Saidy, a manager at a Fast Food Restaurant, said shisha contributes significantly to their profit. According to him, selling shisha has generated him special customers that only visit his restaurant to use or buy shisha.
He added the banning of shisha has made him limit the business. He added his restaurant has large number of demands every single day, with people addicted to it.
WHO studies have shown that within a span of 10 to 30 minutes that one spends smoking, shisha is equivalent to smoking four to five packs of cigarettes.
Ousman Saidy Bah, the spokesperson of DLEAG, said there is a worry that the youth don’t only use tobacco in these water pipes but use it to smoke a certain type of drugs called the Moroccan Hash, which is another type of cannabis; and both genders are engaged in it.
Aisha Marong, a shisha user, said she finds pleasure in smoking shisha.
“I am not an addict. I only smoke it when I see one; that is when I attend shows or parties and that is rare for me. Though I am aware of the health implications, I still use it, and I am working on stopping,” she said.
“I can’t go for a day without smoking shisha, I feel different whenever my body needs it. It’s part of my system. I don’t think I can ever abstain from it,” said Landing Sowe.
He added he has his own water pipe and different flavours which he uses at his convenience.
Omar Badjie, programmer manager, Non-Communicable Disease Prevention Control at the Ministry of Health; and also the national focal point for Tobacco Control, said there are plans to completely ban the importation of shisha which he believes can put a complete stop to its usage in the country.
Mr. Badjie said the youth engage in smoking shisha thinking there is no harm to it – it’s even more dangerous than tobacco smoking.
“If you are young and energetic; you believe things like this can’t harm you, while it’s killing you slowly inside and before you know; it has eaten up your system which can lead to death”. Mr. Badjie explained.
The Health Ministry’s programme manager for NCD, disclosed that they would continue on the sensitisation, noting that it should be a collective duty of all Gambians to disengage bars, restaurants, and hotel owners from selling these substances.
He warned that any one found wanting after the complete banning would face the full force of the law.
Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Ghana are the few African countries that have placed a complete ban on shisha importation and smoking.