Tobacco control officials urge youth to desist from Shisha use

Mamos Media

By Adama Tine

The use of Shisha in public places is rearing its ugly head as police grapple to control the menace while urging youths to desist from it as it is banned in The Gambia. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) described Shisha as water pipe tobacco smoking – a trend that has gained prominence in The Gambia over the last couple of years. 

The ban came as The Gambia government intensified 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. 

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 Saidyba, the spokesperson for the Drug Law Enforcement Agency (DLEAG), said there is a worry that youths do not only use tobacco in these water pipes but use it to smoke a certain type of drug called the Moroccan Hash, which is another type of cannabis; and both genders are engaged in it.

Omar Badjie, programme manager, Non-Communicable Disease Prevention Control at the Ministry of Health who doubles as 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 youths engaged in smoking Shisha think there is no harm to it but he stated that it is even more dangerous than tobacco smoking. 

“If you are young and energetic; you believe things like this cannot harm you, while it is killing you slowly inside and before you know; it has eaten up your system which can lead to death,” Mr. Badjie explained.

He noted that they will 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 anyone 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.

AT/COB/DAJ/09/01/22

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