The Vision for Alternative Development (VALD Ghana) and other Civil Society Organisation (CSOs) have called on the Ministry of Health and the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) to ban the use of “shisha”.
Shisha is the Arabic name for a type of pipe for burning tobacco in, which smoke passes through a container of water before it is breathed in.
VALD Ghana said given the current growth in shisha usage, particularly among the youth, FDA regulation on the use of Shisha was insufficient and not deterrent enough as it endangered the youth’s future.
In a statement signed by Mr Labram Musah, the Executive Director of Programmes, VALD, and copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra, said as civil society actors that worked in the control of tobacco and prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases (NCD), they were worried about the health implications posed to young students engaged in the act.
The call comes on the back of a viral video where students from the Sunyani Senior High School were seen smoking shisha.
The intake of Shisha has over the years become a fashionable product among students in second cycle and tertiary institutions.
Research by the Ghana Health Service (GHS) indicated that most of the country’s youth had ditched the smoking of traditional tobacco cigarettes for e-cigarettes and shisha.
The research also revealed that the rate of smoking shisha and e-cigarettes among young people had shot up to 5.3 per cent – higher than the traditional use of tobacco, which stood at 2.8 per cent.
VALD Ghana urged authorities of the School and the Ghana Health Service to take into consideration the effects of the product on the girls and provide them with medical and counselling support rather than suspending them from school.
It said the act violated the Tobacco Control Measures of the Ghana Public Health Act (Act 851) of 2012, which aims to protect children from tobacco usage and exposure.
The CSO thus called for an intensive investigation by the Food and Drugs Authority to get further information on the facility where shisha was being offered and find out whether it met the regulatory standards.
The statement said: “CSO actors in health led by VALD-Ghana have in the past called on the FDA and MOH to use either an administrative fiat or guidelines to ban this deadly product in Ghana, but no action was taken.”
The Organisation, therefore, noted that regulating shisha by the FDA, given the recent increase in its consumption, especially among the youth, was certainly not deterrent enough but putting the future of our children at risk.
Additionally, it added that considering the health implications of smoking shisha as research had revealed, a session of shisha was equivalent to smoking over 100 sticks of cigarettes.
“We, therefore, call on the Ministry of Health and the FDA to, as a matter of urgency begin the process of outlawing the products in Ghana. Many countries, including Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Cameroon etc. have taken bold steps in banning shisha in their countries because of the public health threat it would have on their children and their youth.”
It also called for a deliberate plan to rollout education in schools, especially second cycle and tertiary institutions on the negative effects of tobacco use.