Going Up in Smoke, Point Blank with Asian Weekly 12th January 2018

12 Jan

lips-smoke-female-woman-54316.jpegThree centuries ago, the Persians enjoyed what is known as the hookah. This is a pipe connected to a bowl of water that is heated and the vapour steams the flavoured tobacco, cannabis or hashish. When the hookah spread around the world it was called shisha. It literally is a pipe version of a cigarette and according to the World Health Organization in one session you end up inhaling as much as a person would if they took one hundred cigarettes.

There is no doubt that shisha is bad for the health. In fact it is bad for the society. The Akbar Empire era is long over and we are better aware of the health risks that tobacco has so why take the chance? Using this water pipe means being able to contract tuberculosis or hepatitis easily especially if shared. Even if you have your own piece, still there is no significant proof that it is safe. While the water contains the concentration of the nicotine, the person smoking does end up taking more and longer puffs because they do not see the smoke going up in the air and think there is really no harm being done.

While previously it was only restricted to older males smoking shisha, it has widely spread to the younger males and now even females between the ages of 18 and 24 years especially in the cities. Since the tobacco for shisha comes in different flavours it offers an alternative than the usual cigarette and on that pretext many youngsters are experimenting. Herbal shisha too contains nicotine so really there is no difference and your health is at risk.

Shisha smoking is usually found in high-end bars because the assembly and ingredients required are plenty. You can smoke a cigarette anywhere but to have shisha you need the water pipe, charcoal and of course the tobacco. This means sitting down and taking the puffs, thus the bar has to be designed accordingly. Eventually it is promoting a culture of being high and cozy, which can lead to unsolicited activities at the place or thereafter. Of course even drinking alcohol in public can result to the person getting high and losing control of their talk and walk and perhaps cause a fight or engage in sexual violence. Taking shisha is just as close to the cliff too.

Just like a glass of wine can loosen the tongue and get the conversation flowing, so can a puff of shisha, but at what expense? The rich and spoilt children of especially Nairobi are using shisha smoking as an excuse to chill out and faze out from the realities that they should be facing. They become lethargic and unresponsive to real life. Shisha smoking is a way for them to kill time. If it is a part of the Arab culture to have shisha then go an enjoy it in their part of the world, there is no need to spread second hand smoke to the rest. Getting that one kick can literally kick you out of life, trying taking in the fumes of your car exhaust and you know where you will end up.

The Cabinet Secretary for Health Cleopha Mailu has rightfully banned shisha in Kenya. Businessmen who are crying for loss of business should remember that dealing in shisha is actually signing up a slow death warrant for your customer. The ban is an excellent way to stop this lazy habit of “socializing”. However he should combine efforts with the Ministry of Sports and Culture, because at the end of the day people do want to socialize and youngsters need their space for enjoyment. This enjoyment should be productive and in the form of sports, arts, music and dance. To enable these activities to happen cost effectively the service providers should get as much assistance as possible to penetrate the youth to keep them busy and competitive.

Finally social vices begin at home just like charity, what you show your kids are what they will emulate later on. While you can’t keep a leash on them, educate them on what is happening from your point of view and not wait for them to Google their symptoms.


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Posted by on January 12, 2018 in Uncategorized


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