#ChoreaShisha: Anti-Shisha Campaign Goes to the Grassroots

Towards the end of last year (2017) the cabinet secretary for health Dr. Cleopa Mailu made the headlines by the bold move of imposing a ban on Shisha. The gazette notice imposing the ban stated in part

No person shall import, manufacture, sell, offer for sale, use, advertise promote or distribute shisha in Kenya

Despite the ban being in place, there has been notable violations of the ban. Enforcement officers seem to have taken a back seat thus allowing the vice to be smoked with total disregard of the law. In places where enforcement have taken place, most of smokers have transferred the habit to their homes. More awareness and public education campaigns is required to sensitize the public the eminent dangers of smoking shisha and the dangers smokers are exposing their loved ones unknowingly. Densely populated areas, such as Eastleigh have seen a total outburst of shisha use, exposing the young people to the vice unabated

Interventions

The Kenya Tobacco Control Alliance in collaboration with Den of Hope Youth Group organized an Anti-Shisha Campaign dubbed #ChoreaShisha in Eastleigh area of Nairobi that is notorious for Shisha use.

Kuwa Mjanjez Chorea Shisha – In direct translation means Be Smart Avoid Shisha – was the slogan of the campaign

The campaign aimed at:

  • Sensitizing the members of the public on the dangers of shisha smoking
  • Enlighten the members of the public on the shisha ban imposed by the Ministry of Health, CS Dr. Cleopa Mailu
Local religious leader addressing the crowd at Eastleigh’s First Avenue on the dangers of shisha

This particular campaign attracted Local community administration, Eastleigh Business Community, Community leaders, religious leaders, youth leaders and various youth groups.

The support by the leadership at the community level is highly critical in the push for the implementation and enforcement of tobacco control policies such as the Shisha ban at the lowest levels of the community.

Shisha is Haram retorted most of the Muslim leaders who took to the platform to address the budging crowd that had gathered to hear our message.

Threats

Eastleigh Area Chief, addressing the gathering during the #ChoreaShisha campaign

The campaign was indeed a success. However, it wouldn’t go unnoticed the stiff opposition of the procession. On the eve of the campaign, Den of Hope Youth Group  leaders receive threatening calls by Shisha dealers within California Base area, which is where the flagging off was to take place. Such threats are not taken lightly – knowing the extent the Tobacco Industry would go to achieve their goals. The groups leaders decided to get in touch with the local administration and police alerting them of the threats and the assurance of total security from the local administration and police came in so fast, which was highly commendable.

The success of this event is easily attributable to the close collaboration with the local administration and community leadership. Kudos to Den of Hope for the great work.