Rwanda has placed a ban on the smoking of shisha beginning Friday, 15 December 2017.
The country’s health ministry cited health concerns as its reason for banning shisha importation, advertising and use within its territory.
It becomes the second country in Africa to outlaw the popular water-pipe tobacco after Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli imposed such a ban on it in July 2016.
Other countries around the world to have banned the smoking of shisha are Pakistan, Jordan, Singapore and Saudi Arabia.
In a public notice, the ministry warned that sanctions will be imposed on those who defy the ban.
It argued that “…shisha tobacco smoking is damaging, addictive and dangerous on human lives.”
“The smoke that emerges from a water-pipe contains numerous toxicants known to cause lung cancer, heart diseases, just to name a few,” read the notice from Health Minister Diane Gashumba.
The warnings back those made by the World Health Organisation (WHO), who said in a recent advisory note to regulators, that smoking shisha posed grave health risks.
It said that shisha smoke is associated with increased risk of diseases such as cancer, heart and lung complications. It is also known to cause problems during pregnancy among female smokers.
According to the organization, one single session of shisha smoking can give a smoker the smoke of 100 or more cigarettes.
“Cigarette smokers typically take eight to 12 cigarettes with a 40 to 75-millimeter puffs and inhaled 0.5 to 0.6 liters 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 liter each,” it said.
The global health body also debunked the popular notion among smokers that shisha is harmless or that the tobacco is purified because it passes through water.
WHO insists that even after it has been passed through water, the smoke produced contains high levels of toxic compounds such as carbon monoxide, heavy metals (arsenic and lead), and cancer-causing chemicals.