Uganda's Tobacco Control Act and the Shisha Craze

It is 10 months since the tobacco Control Act entered into force on the 19th of May 2016. This law among others, banned Shisha, electronic cigarettes and related accessories including flavoured tobacco. It bans the advertising, promotion and sponsorships of tobacco and its products. The law prohibits smoking in public and selling of tobacco products with details in the 3rd and 5th schedules respectively.


On the 10th of December 2016, at Casablanca bar, a stone throw from Mukono Police Station, police officers pounced on drinkers, mainly students from Uganda Christian University who were smoking Shisha- a water-pipe tobacco and 15 shisha pots were impounded. There was no one arrested and the managers were later summoned at police and they recorded statements where they pledged to comply with the law. 

Mukono Environmental Police at a SHISHA junction at Casablanca bar
Second Operation 

On the 21st of January 2017; the Kira Road Divisional police on Lugogo Bypass visited 6 bars notorious for selling the water pipe tobacco delivery system variously known as SHISHA. The Bars were Panamera opposite Kampala parents and shares a parameter wall with a mosque, Casablanca bar- Kampala on Acacia Avenue, Cayenne Bar next to Kabira Country Club, the Dinners bar on Kisasi Rd, de Wink on Acacia  avenue. ‘Police arrests and impounding of prohibited products like these tobacco products is a sensitisation measure to deter would be perpetrators of the law whereas ignorance of the law has not excuse’ said the DPC of Kira police station, Filbert Waibi.


Partners support 

The Ministry of Health plays the national coordination of all partners involved in tobacco control activities; Uganda National Health Consumer’s Organisation (UNHCO), a lead Civil Society Organisation involved in tobacco control in Uganda  has continued to carry out capacity building programs for Police,  political, opinion and district technocrats piloting the highly urbanising districts of Mukono, Jinja and Kampala Capital City Authority. These districts report a sudden rise of Young people exposed to the banned product use of tobacco especially Shisha. 


The social and media partners in tobacco control are Uganda Health Communications Alliance; Fideli, Kahil Insights who have engaged the youth and corporate citizens on social network platforms that has informed advocacy directions.  The research partners include Centre for Tobacco Control Africa (CTCA), Alliance for tobacco control Africa (ATCA) and UNHCO with Ministry of Health playing the policy, strategic and leadership roles for national tobacco control.


Why the SHISHA approach?


SHISHA is a banned product in the tobacco control Act. It is reported to be smoked in highly urbanised areas of Uganda which have universities in their neighbourhood or which have many young people plying the night clubs. It has a relationship with people who want "class" because it’s an imported behaviour that most rich young people want to adopt.


What makes Shisha popular is the deception that tobacco has been neutralised, the flavour "does not make it tobacco," the session is longer, and is more socially acceptable. One does not have to run to the toilet or a distance away from the non-smokers, as is the case with cigarettes.


To that end, Shisha is popular with youth that resent smoking tobacco. It is smoked in the evening. Public place owners sell a lot of water to the smokers because shisha makes them thirsty.


Offences and penalties related to SHISHA


Contrary to section 16 (2) (7, a person shall not  import, manufacture, distribute, process, sell, or offer for sale an electronic nicotine delivery system, a water pipe tobacco delivery system and a smokeless or flavoured tobacco product. Contravening this law may result in a fine of not less than 480, 000/= Uganda shillings (13$) or imprisonment for a term not less than 1 year. A corporate entity court shall impose a fine of 20 million UGX (5714$); order surrender of any proceeds of sale of the product to government or suspend trading licence of that person for a period not less than six months.


Some Tourists to accused


Whereas Uganda is branded the most hospitable country, most of the guests who smoke tobacco do so in public. Most public facility owners that could have wished to comply with the law blame their failure on foreign guests that pay handsomely for hospitality services. It is "very rude of them to tell them to stop smoking."


Visitors to Uganda must respect our laws, especially those that protect public health and should not take advantage of the courtesy or their financial might to exposure Ugandans to tobacco smoke. The tobacco control Act punishes all those who contravene it, without discrimination on the basis of race. All should comply.

Level 3 (XP: 1000)
Young energy is being spent as such young corporates some times leave leisure places at 7:00am

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