The Anti Tobacco Network applauds the government of Botswana for banning the use and sale of Shisha as the ban on tobacco products sales and imports has been lifted. As we have previously highlighted, Shisha also known as Hubbly Bubbly is usually smoked in groups using shared mouth pieces that are a channel for transmission of COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases. Just recently, ATN Executive Director Prof Bontle Mbongwe urged the government, in her World No Tobacco Day 2020 speech, to consider banning the sale and use of Shisha in order to minimise the risk of spreading the coronavirus between smokers. Prof Mbongwe had highlighted that during shisha smoking sessions, it is practically impossible to maintain social distance to avoid transmission of COVID -19 warning that the sharing of tobacco products by its users pose the danger of spreading COVID-19 through contaminated saliva. Botswana joins several countries in Africa that have banned the sale and use of hubbly bubbly due to its negative impact on people's health especially young people.
The prohibition on the sale and use of tobacco products near schools is also a commendable move which will go a long way in ensuring that children have no easy access to tobacco products. However, there is need to extend the ban to homes as some children have been reported to take tobacco products from home and sell to their peers. In addition, it is also a commendable move by the government to prohibit smoking in all public spaces in order to protect non-smokers from second hand smoke.
Further, we wish to reiterate the need for the Government to expedite the long pending comprehensive tobacco Control law that is fully compliant with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Among others the law must have provisions for large pictorial warnings on tobacco products and bans on tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship, prohibit flavoured tobacco products given the clear evidence that these products attract and addict children and young adults. These measures will protect children and young adults from this predatory industry.
Anti Tobacco Network