An unnamed Sudanese minister was among 17 people arrested in Kampala Uganda for smoking water-pipe tobacco, popularly known as shisha.
The suspects were detained at Kabalagala Police Division but released today in the morning during suspects’ parade.
“He (the minister) only identified himself in the morning during suspects’ parade. He has been released after establishing his particulars,” said Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesman, Mr Luke Owoyesigyire.
According to Ugadan laws, the owner of the bar in which the (shisha)tobacco was smoked faces a Ush20 million (approximately Ksh 547,000) and his or her licence suspended for at least six months.
Smoking of shisha is popular among the youth and many bars and entertainment places in the country are selling it despite the ban in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda.
Tanzania imposed a ban on shisha in July 2016, while Rwanda outlawed the practice through a public notice effective December 15, 2017.
In Kenya, a study done by the University of Nairobi notes that little is known about the composition of shisha consumed locally, making it prone to the possibility of adulteration with prohibited substances.
Researchers at the university tested eight samples of shisha products, and they all tested positive for drugs. They were laced with opiates (drugs derived from opium) and methamphetamines — a highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system. It is used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
The use of shisha has also been associated with health risks. For example, the study notes that since smoking is often social, and two or more people may share the same water-pipe, it exposes its users to infectious diseases such as TB and hepatitis.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) also notes that water-pipe smokers and second-hand smokers are exposed to the same health risks associated with cigarette smoking.
“Contrary to popular belief, the smoke that emerges from a water-pipe contains numerous toxicants known to cause diseases such as lung cancer, heart disease and respiratory disease,” the UN agency notes in its latest advisory note on water-pipe tobacco smoking.
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