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Cancer association supports hookah ban

Written by on June 5, 2024

Cancer Association of Namibia (CAN) chief executive Rolf Hansen says his organisation support the proposal in parliarment to ban hookah pipes – also known as hubbly-bubbly.

He said CAN regularly receives complaints regarding the “escalated” use of hookah and similar products, especially by the youth and in public spaces, including schools and restaurants.

“We are very much in support thereof, as we observe many youngsters smoking hookah pipes, especially. It may not be smoked in public spaces and enclosed areas, but you will still find hookah pipes in lounges, restaurants and nightclubs,” Hansen said.

He called for stronger police support to help manage community complaints.

This also comes after the government’s proposal to regulate hookah smoking and vaping is receiving mixed reactions, with some advocating stricter controls and others emphasising the importance of personal freedoms.

The Ministry of Health and Social Services is expected to present to parliament a review and proposed amendments to the Tobacco Control Act, incorporating regulations for nicotine products used in vaping.

This legislative effort, slated for the middle of this month, aims to curb the rising use of electronic cigarettes and water pipes (hookahs) nationwide.

Additionally, the amendment will support the creation of a comprehensive tobacco strategic plan.

According to 2022 data by the World Health Organisation, worldwide at least 37 million young people aged 13 to 15 use some form of tobacco.

Hansen said products such as electronic cigarettes and nicotine pouches are gaining popularity among the youth.

He said the tobacco industry works to create an environment that promotes the uptake of its products among the next generation, including lax regulation to ensure its products are available and affordable.

“The industry also develops products and advertising tactics that appeal to children and adolescents, reaching them through social media and streaming platforms,” Hansen said.

The introduction of new regulations is expected to address the mushrooming issue of alternative nicotine delivery systems, such as vaping devices and hookah pipes.

Dudu Murorua from the United Democratic Front (UDF) also noted his support for the amendments to the act.

“I support the move wholeheartedly since the long-term use of tobacco products can cause cancer,” Murorua said.

Last year, Popular Democratic Movement parliamentarian Elma Dienda in the National Assembly called for the complete ban of hookah pipes in Namibia.

Dienda said hookah pipes are destroying underage youngsters.

“I saw a mother and her children sitting under a tree. I thought they were passing an asthma pump around when I saw the mother passing it to the child. I thought the whole family had asthma, not knowing that it was a hubbly-bubbly pipe,” she said at the time.

Yesterday, National Youth Council of Namibia chairperson Sharonice Busch said while the organisation supports the amendments, proper consultations are necessary.

She further said she firmly believes a healthy youth population is crucial for nation-building and she is aware of the scientific evidence indicating the health impacts of tobacco and vaping.

“However, a balance must at all times, be struck between personal liberties and what we make permissible in terms of law. So, our hope is that extensive consultations are made before such amendments are made,” Busch said.

The post Cancer association supports hookah ban appeared first on The Namibian.

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