EDITORIAL: Stringent action against drug abuse will come in handy

Recently, the government banned Shisha, the water pipe smoking craze that had gained popularity in most of Kigali’s upscale entertainment joints.

Recently, the government banned Shisha, the water pipe smoking craze that had gained popularity in most of Kigali’s upscale entertainment joints.

Many people had been of the view that Shisha, unlike regular cigarettes, had little or no health risks since the smoke inhaled passes through water. But scientists affirm that despite the smoke passing through water, carcinogens remain and can have undesirable effects on long term users.

A recent report by World Health Organisation claimed that a one hour session of Shisha was equivalent to smoking between 100 and 200 cigarettes.

So, despite a few murmurs from affected business owners, the ban should be seen in light of the health benefits it will bring, especially among the youth who were Shisha’s most ardent acolytes.

However, Shisha is at the bottom of the ladder in drug abuse, and as President Kagame said during the just concluded national dialogue, hard drugs (opioids) were alarmingly on the rise and urgent measures were needed to counter drug abuse before it is too late.

The most abused drug had been marijuana, but cocaine, heroin as well as synthetic drugs such as methamphetamines are slowly gaining ground.

The drug problem in Rwanda might not be as widespread as in some other countries, thus the need to nip it in the bud. Those who peddle drugs usually target young gullible people and once they are hooked, dealers can count on having permanent customers to keep their lucrative business growing.

Going after drug dealers should be the government’s priority and not drug abusers. The latter are victims who need psychiatric help.

Putting in place heavy punitive measures for drug dealers could be a starting point and identifying them would not be a problem. Drug abusers simply need to point out their suppliers in exchange for not going to jail. That could do the trick and the quicker it is done the better.