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Vision for Alternative Development (VALD) and the Ghana NCD Alliance, together with many other Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) committed to ensuring that human health is upheld and protected, have jointly called for the immediate ban on Shisha use in Ghana.
Shisha smoking – also called hookah, narghile, waterpipe, or hubble bubble smoking – is a way of smoking tobacco, sometimes mixed with fruit or molasses sugar, through a bowl and hose or tube.
A joint petition to the Foods and Drugs Authority (FDA) of Ghana, by the aforementioned group lamented the increasing use of shisha in Ghana, arguing that it has serious damaging significances particularly on the youthful population who have obviously been made the main target of the product.
They want Ghana to join the list of some known African countries that have already declared a ban on shisha due to its devastating health consequences and impending health challenges. Tanzania banned shisha last year followed by Rwanda and a few days ago Kenya also banned shisha; many African countries are also in the process of following the trail.
VALD and its allies believe that per Part 6 of Ghana’s Public Health Act of 2012 (Act 851) which specifically deals with Tobacco Control Measures, shisha is an illicit product in Ghana and must be handled as such.
The petition jointly signed by Labram M. Musah who is the Programmes Director of VALD and the Adams Ebenezer the Vice Chair of Ghana Non-communicable Disease Alliance (GhNCDA) say shisha is a dangerous substance aimed to destroy the future of the youth in Ghana and must therefore be banned completely in accordance with the law.
The full petition is published below:
Petition to the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA)
Date of Petition: 10th January, 2018
Ban Shisha in Ghana; It has no benefit but a destruction of the youth, the environment and a burden on the health care infrastructure
We, the undersigned wish to bring to your attention the influx of shisha in Ghana which has a damaging health consequences on the youth who are the main target.
Shisha, sometimes referred to as water pipe is a tobacco smoking device, it employs an indirect heat source (such as lit charcoal) to slowly burn tobacco leaves while users draw smoke down through a water chamber into their mouths through hoses.
Health campaigners across the globe have warned of the dangers of smoking shishas. Doctors say there is a “misconception” that shishas are not as harmful as cigarettes, the British Heart Foundation says an hour-long shisha session can be the equivalent of smoking more than 100 cigarettes in one session. Apart from the known diseases such as heart disease, cancer, respiratory disease and problems during pregnancy, smokers are at high risk of infectious diseases such as TB, Hepatitis etc.
World Health Organisation (WHO), in a recent advisory note to regulators, revealed that smoking shisha posed grave health risks.
A common belief is that the risks of tobacco are reduced since it is purified as it passes through the water but WHO insists that even after it has been passed through water, the smoke produced contains high levels of toxic compounds including carbon monoxide, heavy metals and cancer-causing chemicals.
We firmly believe that shisha/water pipe tobacco products imported in Ghana are all illegal. All tobacco products must be registered with the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) before they are allowed entry into the country. Our source indicates that they are coming from neighboring countries through unapproved routs. Some of these products have no country of origin and no one knows the actual constituents of these products being excessively used by the youth and some celebrates.
The Tobacco Control Measures of Act 851 and Regulations 2247 clearly states that all tobacco products must have health warnings. Many hotels and restaurants have shisha lounges opened to the public every day without the approved health warnings. Smoking is banned in all public places in Ghana except in designated rooms but shisha is found and smoked in many communities openly, posing serious health problems especially to second hand smokers including children and pregnant women.
Any product including tobacco products that has no country of origin is illicit therefore shisha is illicit products and must be banned immediately.
Children as young as 15 years and below are involved in shisha business, especially during holidays and at the beaches.
It is important to note that due to the devastating health consequences and the impending health challenges that shisha will pose, Tanzania banned shisha last year followed by Rwanda and now Kenya few days ago and many countries in Africa are in the process of following suit.
Justification for the ban
Per the Public Health Act of 2012 (Act 851) specifically part 6 (Tobacco Control Measures), shisha must be considered an illicit product in Ghana:
Prohibition of smoking in public places
Section 58. (1) A person shall not smoke tobacco or a tobacco product or hold a lighted tobacco product in an enclosed or indoor area of a work place, or in any other public place except in a designated area.
Shisha is smoked in an open space in our communities and does not conforms to this section.
Section 62. (5) A unit packet or package of tobacco products for retail or wholesale in the country shall carry the statement “for sale in Ghana only” and also state the country of origin.
No one knows the origin of shisha tobacco since FDA has not given approval of it use in Ghana.
Section 63. (1) A person who manufactures, imports or sells a tobacco product in the country shall ensure that the product carries a health warning on the package as determined by the Food and Drugs Authority
There are no health warnings on shisha tobacco products
Section 65. (1) A person shall not
(a) Sell or offer for sale tobacco or a tobacco product to a child;
There is no age limit as children are exposed and actually use the product or use as conduit to sell and buy shisha
The Tobacco Control Regulations, 2016 (L.I. 2247) has also clearly make shisha illicit in Ghana: see the justifications below:
Registration of Tobacco and Tobacco products
Section 14. (1) A person shall not manufacture, import or sell a tobacco or tobacco product unless the product is registered by the Authority.
Illicit Tobacco and Tobacco Products
Section 16. (1) A person shall not manufacture, import, export, supply, possess, or offer for sale an illicit tobacco or tobacco product.
(2) For the purposes of this part, tobacco and tobacco products is illicit if;
(a) the product is one which is deliberately or fraudulently mislabeled with respect to its identity or source;
(b) the labelling requirements of the tobacco or tobacco product are not met;
(c) there are no approved health warnings on the pack of the tobacco or tobacco product;
(d) the tobacco or tobacco product is not passing through the right ports of entry;
(e) the label or package of the tobacco or tobacco product bears the name of an individual or company which does not exist and purports to be manufacturers of tobacco and tobacco products;
(f) it is manufactured under a name which belongs to another tobacco or tobacco product;
(g) it is an imitation of or is a substitute for another tobacco or tobacco product or if
- it resembles another tobacco or tobacco product
- it is likely to deceive, or
iii. it bears on its label or container the name of another tobacco or tobacco
products unless it is plainly and conspicuously marked so as to reveal its true character and its lack of identity
(h) the label or package bears the name of an individual or a company which is fictitious or does not exist and purports to be the manufacturer of the tobacco and tobacco products;
(i) it purports to be a product of a manufacturer of whom it is not truly a product
These are newly dangerous products in Ghana to destroy our youth, we want a complete ban now.
Mr. Labram M. Musah- Programmes Director of Vision for Alternative Development (VALD)
Mr. Adams Ebenezer- Vice Chair of Ghana Non-communicable Disease Alliance (GhNCDA)
For further information contact:
Vision for Alternative Development (VALD)
Petition endorsed by
- Alzheimer’s Ghana
- Stroke AssociationSupport Network – Ghana (SASNGH)
- Coalition of NGO in Health, Greater Accra Region
- Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC)
- Consumer Concerns Initiative
- Ghana Muslim Mission (GMM)
- Shisha 101 – Legon Campus
- Coalition of NGOs in Tobacco Control (CNTC)
- Network for Health and Relief Foundation
- Movement Against Tobacco and Substances of Abuse (MATOSA)
- Socioserve- Ghana
- Aid for Needy Children Foundation
- Federation of Youth Clubs (FYC)
- Concern Health NGO
- Resource Link Foundation
- Clikgold Association
- Coalition of NGO in Health, Ashanti Region
- Defense Against AIDS, Poverty and Under development (DAAPU)
- Foundation for Future Christian Workers International (FRCWI)
- Media Alliance in Tobacco Control and Health (MATCOH)
- Community Health Support Team (CHEST)
- Broadcast Journalist, an Event Organizer and GM Providence Group of Companies-Ghana
- Action for Integrated Development (AID)
- Alliance for Reproductive Health Right
- Institute of Leadership and Development
- Hope Care Ghana
- Ghana NCD Alliance (GhNCDA)
- Ghana Academy of Muslim Professionals (GAMP)
- Ghana Alcohol Policy Alliance (GhanAPA)
- Vision for Alternative Development