Ghana is working to ban the smoking of the wind-pipe tobacco popularly known as Shisha and electronic cigarette by the middle of 2018.
This is according to the Principal Research Officer at the Ghana Health Service, Divine Darlington Logo.
He revealed this on the sidelines of the World Conference on Tobacco or Health held in Cape Town, South Africa which was held from March 7 to 9.
If it becomes successful, Ghana will join Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania as African countries that have banned the wind-pipe tobacco.
“First time we did a study to cover electronic cigarette and Shisha we were surprised to hear that the youth are now moving away from the traditional tobacco use in cigarettes to Shisha and the electronic cigarette which we were not aware off,” he said.
Dr Divine Logo
The research conducted by the Ghana Health Service also revealed that the prevalence of Shisha smoking stands at 5.3 per cent higher than traditional tobacco use which in the cigarette which is 2.8 percent.
Meanwhile, electronic cigarette smoking prevalence stands at 8.5 percent among the youth.
The research which is yet to be released according to Mr. Logo identified the prevalence among especially the youth between the ages of 13 to 15 years.
The call for the ban has become necessary based on WHOs concerns about the harmful effects of Shisha tobacco on human health and hence recommended the ban to all countries, parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC Parties).
It is dangerous, damaging, and addictive to human lives, according to a WHO Advisory note.
Shisha contains many of the same toxic chemicals found in cigarette smoke, although Shisha smokers are at a higher risk of suffering the same types of diseases caused by cigarette smoking.
Like cigarette, it contains nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide and heavy metals such as arsenic and lead
The smoke that emerges from the water-pipe contains numerous toxicants known to cause lung cancer, heart diseases etc.
There has been growing misconception that smoking the fruit-scented tobacco through a bowl and tube could be used to cover up alcohol or drug abuse.
The WHO Advisory note also revealed that the smoke from one water-pipe smoking session is almost equivalent to puffing 100 cigarettes.
“Shisha use is more harmful than the cigarette when you puff one is like you have smoked one full cigarette stick,” said Dr. Logo.
Mr. Darlingnton Logo is worried the trend is becoming alarmingly dangerous.
The Tobacco Control Regulations, 2016 (L.I 2247) entered into force on January 4, 2017, do not have measures for Electronic Cigarette for that matter Shisha control.
Sadly, Electronic Cigarette could not be classified under Tobacco Control in the ACT that has been passed because it is Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS).
The ENDS, which is also called e-cigarettes, personal vaporisers, vape pens, e-cigars, or vaping devices are products that produce an aerosolised mixture containing flavoured liquids and nicotine that is inhaled by the user.
Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) therefore, unfortunately, does not have the regulation right now to control Shisha and Electronic Cigarette.
Steven Shonguo, Acting Director for Non-Communicable Diseases Cluster at the World Health Organisation Regional Office for Africa, said because most of the Shisha are imported, what is important is that measures to ensure there is no illegal importation of Shisha and e-cigarette should be put in place.
“It is important to intensify monitoring of the products; internally we apply the existing tobacco control laws in the country, and the framework convention on tobacco control,” he said.
Technical Advisor for Tobacco Control at the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung disease (THE UNION), Anne Jones, says Ghana must take lessons from success stories of other countries that have banned it.
“The tobacco companies are same people who own the electronic cigarette; they are marketing strategies to make money. It gets people who have never smoked the traditional cigarette to get hooked on to nicotine which will eventually get them addicted to taking tobacco products”.
Mr. Logo, however, revealed that “we are working with Ministry of Health to ban the use of electronic cigarette and Shisha. It is more dangerous than cigarette, as far as public health is concerned, banning it is the only way out in Ghana and i can assure you by the middle of this year that has to be done”.