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“Unmasking Shisha Secrets: Kenya’s Hidden Addiction and Health Perils”.

Discover the concealed perils of shisha and unravel the reasons behind Kenyans’ enthrallment with this exotic pastime. Unveil the hidden narrative behind the dimly lit rooms, the bubbling water, and the camaraderie shared around a hookah.


Amidst the enchantment of shisha’s flavors and communal experiences, there lies a clandestine story. Shisha, a glass-bottomed water pipe, entices users with fruit-flavored tobacco, enveloped in foil and roasted with charcoal. Despite Kenya’s comprehensive ban on shisha in 2017, its allure persists, especially in upmarket nightclubs, captivating socialites and sportspersons alike.


Carol’s initiation into shisha culture four years ago reveals a common trend among women in Nairobi. The act, deemed cool, draws them into nightclubs and shisha joints. Despite the initial allure, Carol’s experience highlights the aftermath—severe headaches akin to a hangover, signaling the detrimental effects of this tobacco-laced indulgence.


The dangers of shisha extend beyond momentary enjoyment. In 2014, before the ban, shisha flavors were found to contain substances like bhang, heroin, and cocaine. WHO’s advisory notes emphasize the association of shisha with cancers, respiratory diseases, cardiovascular issues, low birth weight, and mental health impairment.


Despite awareness of these dangers, many, like Jack, continue to indulge in shisha on social occasions, attributing its appeal to the unique high it provides when combined with alcohol. The prevalence of shisha use, especially among 18 to 35-year-olds, remains a concerning statistic, prompting calls for intensified efforts by Nacada and other agencies to combat this illegal and hazardous practice.


As the debate rages on, experts advocate for stricter enforcement and public awareness to curb the growing trend of shisha use. The allure of temporary highs and social acceptance must be weighed against the long-term health risks, urging individuals, authorities, and the public to unite in eliminating the hazardous presence of shisha from Kenyan social scenes.



Article By Suzy Nyongesa.


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