Rwanda has banned the smoking of water-pipe tobacco popularly known as shisha starting Friday.
It becomes the second country in Africa to ban the substance after Tanzania imposed the ban in July last year.
Rwanda’s Health minister Diane Gashumba said in a statement the action is based on WHO’s concerns about the effects of Shisha tobacco on human health.
“Accordingly, the ministry of health informs general public that the use, advertisement and import of water-pipe tobacco smoking known as shisha tobacco is banned on Rwandan territory effective from December 15.
“Failure to comply with this notice, sanctions as provided by the law will be applied,” Gashumba said.
Shisha smoking has become increasingly popular among young people in Africa, including in Kenya.
It goes by several names including hookah tobacco, maassel, narghile and argileh and comes in several flavours including fruity, minty, rich and creamy.
The highly toxic tobacco substance is smoked using a hookah (waterpipe).
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 contains many of the same toxic chemicals found in cigarette smoke although smokers are at a higher risk of suffering the same kinds of diseases caused by cigarette smoking.
This is because an hour-long session of shisha smoking involves the inhalation of 100–200 times the volume of smoke than a typical cigarette smoker inhales in a few days.
Shisha smoke is associated with increased risk of disease including cancer, heart disease, lung disease and many other deadly ailments.
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.
Shisha is not entirely banned in Kenya but the National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (Nacada), in conjunction with the Ministry of Health banned 19 shisha flavours in the country in June 2014.
The then NACADA chairman John Mututho said the flavours contained bhang, heroin and cocaine.
The banned flavours include Al Fakher vanilla flavour, Al Fakher two appeals flavour, Al Fakher guava flavour, Al Fakher strawberry flavour and Al Fakher orange flavour.
Al Fakher two apples with mint flavour, Al Fakher orange with mint flavour, Al Fakher orange flavour, Al Fakher packet strawberry flavour and Al Fakher chocolate with mint flavour were also banned.
Others are strong formulated shisha cocktail, medium formulated shisha cocktail, mild formulated shisha, Al Fakher energy drink flavour, nakhala molasses tobacco apple flavour and formulated kuber (positive for morphine).