The Ghana Health Service says it is making efforts to secure a ban on the smoking of water-pipe tobacco popularly known as shisha and electronic cigarettes by the middle of 2018.
The Principal Research Officer of the GHS, Divine Darlington, says a research conducted by his outfit showed that most of the country’s youth have ditched the smoking of traditional tobacco cigarettes for e-cigarettes and shisha.
The research revealed that that the rate of smoking shisha and e-cigarettes among young people has shot up to 5.3 percent, higher than the traditional use of tobacco which stands at 2.8 percent.
Mr. Darlington in an interview on the sidelines of the 17th World Conference on Tobacco or Health held in Cape Town, South Africa, revealed that the GHS was collaborating with the Ministry of Health to secure a ban on shisha this year.
He said research on the smoking of shisha had revealed that one puff from a shisha tube equaled the smoking of an entire cigarette.
“All the effects of smoking are in shisha and electronic cigarettes, so FDA does not have that regulation right now to control shisha and that of electronic cigarettes,” Mr Darlington lamented.
He added “However, we are working with the Ministry of Health now to ban shisha and electronic cigarettes now in Ghana. Shisha use is more harmful than cigarettes, one puff from that tube is equal to one full cigarette that you smoke, so it is more dangerous than cigarette, so with that alone as far as public health is concerned, we are using that alone to ban it from Ghana. I can assure you by the middle of this year surely that has to be done”.
What is shisha?
Shisha – also known as ‘hookah’ or a ‘water pipe’ – is tobacco that’s usually fruit-flavoured, and smoked through a glass-bottomed pipe filled with water.
A porcelain attachment is topped with flavoured tobacco, covered with foil, and then heated with roasted charcoal.
Shisha’s origins are disputed – it’s thought to either originate from India, Persia or Turkey – but in any case, it’s now really popular in the UK.
Shisha bans on the rise worldwide
If the ban is passed, Ghana will become the third African country to ban shisha after Tanzania and Rwanda. Other countries with similar bans are Pakistan, Jordan, Singapore and Saudi Arabia.
The World Health Organisation (WHO), in an advisory note to regulators, revealed that smoking shisha posed grave health risks.
In a single session, it said, shisha smokers can inhale the smoke of 100 or more cigarettes.
“Cigarette smokers typically take eight to 12 cigarettes with a 40 to 75-millimetre puffs and inhaled 0.5 to 0.6 litres of smoke unlike shisha smoking sessions which typically last 20 to 80 minutes, during which the smoker may take 50 to 200 puffs which range from about 0.15 to 1 litre each,” it said.
Shisha smoking is very popular among young people in Ghana with many believing it is harmless because the risks of tobacco are reduced since it is purified as it passes through the water-pipe known as hookah.
The smoke exposes the user to the addictive chemical nicotine as well as tar, carbon monoxide and heavy metals such as arsenic and lead.
Shisha smoke is associated with increased risk of disease— cancer, heart and lung complications.
It is also known to cause problems during pregnancy among female smokers.
The side effects may not be immediately noticeable but just like cigarettes, the harmful fumes slowly damage certain parts of the body of a shisha smoker over time.
Tobacco Conference urges governments to phase out tobacco products sale by 2021
Dr Harry Lando, Chair of the WCTOH Organizing Committee, announced eleven declarations of the 17th World Conference on Tobacco or Health.
Thanking delegates, organizers and speakers for their contribution to the success of the conference, he emphasized the significance of holding this year’s conference in Africa for the first time. Dr Fenton Howell from the Department of Health, Ireland, was then invited on stage to announce that the 2021 World Conference on Tobacco of Health will be held in Dublin.
Dr Lando read the official conference declaration before closing the conference:
We, the participants of the WCTOH, meeting on the African continent for the first time, and delighted that for the first time the WCTOH has a woman as President emphasize that:
The tobacco epidemic represents one of the biggest public health threats that the world has ever faced. Tobacco use kills more than 7 million people each year, and the vast majority of these deaths take place in low- and middle-income countries.
The global economic cost of smoking amounts to nearly 2 trillion dollars and 2 percent of the worlds GDP in 2016.
Tobacco use also undermines sustainable development, imposing a huge burden on the global economy, exacerbating poverty, contributing to food insecurity, and harming the environment.
There is an irreconcilable conflict between the manufacture and marketing of tobacco products and the right to health.
The tobacco industry is a driver of poverty and linked to child labor, violation of workers’ rights, food insecurity and exploitation of farmers. African governments need to take concrete and urgent action to implement alternative livelihoods that are the rich sources of income free from tobacco.
Ending the scourge of tobacco and achieving the SDGs will require urgent action.
Therefore the 17th World Conference on Tobacco or Health affirms the following:
WCTOH 2018 Declarations
- We call on governments to unite with civil society to stop tobacco industry interference and accelerate implementation of the WHO FCTC using a whole of government approach.
- We urge governments, scientists, research entities, foundations, and civil society organizations to reject or cease engagement with the Philip Morris International-funded Foundation for a Smokefree World and other initiatives of the tobacco industry
- We adopt the Cape Town Declaration on Human Rights and a Tobacco-free World
- We call on African governments to operationalize the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on financing for development that recommends increasing tobacco taxes as an untapped, sustainable domestic resource mobilization strategy, for accelerating the implementation of the WHO FCTC in Africa
- We call on Parties to actively engage in the development of the WHO FCTC Medium Term Strategic Framework and Plan and to endorse them at the forthcoming eighth session of the Conference of the Parties of the WHO FCTC.
- We support the concept of a tobacco-free generation and commit to empowering youth involvement and advocacy as a means to achieving a tobacco-free world.
- We call on Finance Ministers to actively support the WCTOH 2018 Declarations by prioritizing sustainable funding for tobacco control and ceasing public and private investment in the tobacco industry.
- We call on governments to extend as a priority, fiscal policies to continually decrease the affordability and accessibility of tobacco products
- We call on the Parties to the WHO FCTC to integrate gender-based data collection and reporting into Party reports to the Conference of the Parties on their implementation of the WHO FCTC by COP9.
- We call upon the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to align with the decision of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and end its collaboration with the tobacco industry immediately
- We call upon governments to develop a plan by 2021 for phasing out the sale of tobacco products.