RE: “Why Rwanda banned smoking of shisha” (The New Times, December 20).
This makes no sense. All tobacco consumption in all forms, not just shisha (even growing) is extremely deadly to health. Cigarette manufacturers have always added all kinds of chemicals/additives to their products, including toxic ones, that increase carcinogenicity and addiction. Cigarette smoking is even more deadly for nearby passive smokers.
Note that the World Health Organization (WHO)’s guidelines recommend that “...water-pipes and water-pipe tobacco should also include strong health warnings, they should be included in comprehensive tobacco control efforts, including prevention strategies and cessation interventions, prohibiting them in public places as it is on cigarettes and other forms of tobacco smoking.” They do not claim that these are any more dangerous than cigarettes, but that they should “be included in comprehensive tobacco control efforts”.
Please therefore give us another more objective reason why shisha should be treated more harshly than cigarettes – and I’m not defending shisha, but merely pointing out the decision to single it out is arbitrary, not scientific.
We need a truly comprehensive anti-tobacco (all tobacco) policy, not such a haphazard approach, that addresses a truly minute part of the deadly tobacco industry. If prohibition worked, I would be for it, but, as the WHO guidelines indicate, this must be part of a much larger comprehensive policy of ‘tobacco control efforts, including prevention strategies and cessation interventions.’
Furthermore, why stop only with shisha, excluding the even more massive danger that the cigarette industry represents to public health? If banning alone works, why not ban all tobacco consumption? We would save many more lives and reduce the high health costs linked to tobacco growth, cigarette manufacturing (yes, tobacco growing and cigarette manufacturing are equally deadly to the workers involved and those who live in the vicinity of these activities) and tobacco consumption.
The importation and trading of various ingredients used in shisha is just a small degree away from weed and related drugs. This underlying motivation is not a ban on shisha but rather curb the opportunities for drug-related consumption. As popular movies show, shisha machinery (amongst other contraptions) are well suited to smoking weed and disguising its smells - fragrants, flavors.
The logic here is to prevent bad habit and social influences. Cigarettes are in their own category because they are taxed in an orderly manner and generate huge government revenues.