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Faith Nyasuguta 

Cameroon is the latest African nation after Kenya, the Gambia, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Ghana to ban the smoking of Shisha.

The health ministry notes that about 46 per cent of young Cameroonians smoke the substance yet it has detrimental effects on their health.

Despite a “misconception” that shisha is not as harmful as cigarettes, the British Heart Foundation has revealed that an hour-long shisha session could be directly proportional to smoking over 100 cigarettes.

The WHO in its 2 015 advisory note made this fact even clearer.

“All the studies to date indicate that, during a typical waterpipe use session, the user will draw large doses of toxicants (ranging from less than one to tens of cigarette equivalents).”

A woman smokes waterpipe (Shisha) at a cafe in Dubai on May 31, 2008. The Gulf emirate of Dubai banned the sale of tobacco to anyone under the age of 20 with immediate effect /MARWAN NAAMANI/AFP/

“These toxicants have been linked to addiction, heart and lung diseases, and cancer in cigarette smokers and can result in similar outcomes in waterpipe users if these toxicants are absorbed in the body in appreciable amounts,” the report stated.

Shisha is usually a mixture of tobacco, molasses, glycerine and flavourings. 

“Traditionally, shisha tobacco contains cigarette tobacco, so like cigarettes, it contains nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide and heavy metals, such as arsenic and lead,” it adds.

In Africa, the smoking of shisha tobacco is widespread with its regulation becoming a burden to most African countries as countries like Kenya and Sudan keep revising their regulations.

Since shisha bars continue springing up in major cities, African leaders may have to keep revising their strategies to effectively clamp down on the menace.

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Faith Nyasuguta