The Ghana Health Service (GHS) says it is making efforts to secure a ban on the smoking of water-pipe tobacco popularly known as shisha and electronic cigarettes by the middle of 2018.
The Principal Research Officer of the GHS, Divine Darlington, says a research conducted by his outfit showed that most of the country’s youth have ditched the smoking of traditional tobacco cigarettes for e-cigarettes and shisha.
The research revealed that the rate of smoking shisha and e-cigarettes among young people has shot up to 5.3 percent, higher than the traditional use of tobacco which stands at 2.8 percent.
He said the research on the smoking of shisha had revealed that one puff from a shisha tube equaled the smoking of an entire cigarette.
“All the effects of smoking are in shisha and electronic cigarettes, so FDA does not have that regulation right now to control shisha and that of electronic cigarettes,” Mr Darlington lamented.
He added “However, we are working with the Ministry of Health now to ban shisha and electronic cigarettes in Ghana. Shisha use is more harmful than cigarettes, one puff from that tube is equal to one full cigarette that you smoke, so it is more dangerous than cigarette, and with that alone as far as public health is concerned, we are using that alone to ban it from Ghana. I can assure you by the middle of this year surely that has to be done”.
If the ban is passed, Ghana will become the third African country to ban shisha after Tanzania and Rwanda.countries with similar bans are Pakistan, Jordan, Singapore and Saudi Arabia.
The World Health Organisation (WHO), in an advisory note to regulators, revealed that smoking shisha posed grave health risks.
In a single session, it said, shisha smokers can inhale the smoke of 100 or more cigarettes.
“Cigarette smokers typically take eight to 12 cigarettes with a 40 to 75-millimetre puffs and inhaled 0.5 to 0.6 litres of smoke unlike shisha smoking sessions which typically last 20 to 80 minutes, during which the smoker may take 50 to 200 puffs which range from about 0.15 to 1 litre each,” it said.
WHAT IS SHISHA?
Shisha – also known as ‘hookah’ or a ‘water pipe’ – is tobacco that’s usually fruit-flavoured, and smoked through a glass-bottomed pipe filled with water.
A porcelain attachment is topped with flavoured tobacco, covered with foil, and then heated with roasted charcoal.
Shisha smoking is very popular among young people in Ghana with many believing it is harmless because the risks of tobacco are reduced since it is purified as it passes through the water-pipe known as hookah.
The smoke exposes the user to the addictive chemical nicotine as well as tar, carbon monoxide and heavy metals such as arsenic and lead.
Shisha smoke is associated with increased risk of disease— cancer, heart and lung complications.
It is also known to cause problems during pregnancy among female smokers.
The side effects may not be immediately noticeable but just like cigarettes, the harmful fumes slowly damage certain parts of the body of a shisha smoker over time.