Kenya’s Tourism Minister Najib Balala has faulted banning shisha smoking and trade and shutting down of night clubs saying it will hurt the economy.
The minister termed the move to ban the water-pipe tobacco which was imposed by the outgoing Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu as “miscalculated.
Mr Balala also accused the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) of pretence for shutting down of night clubs adding that they are closing clubs “after failing to regulate issues.”
“You do your job, we will support; but you don’t wake up overnight and ban shisha or start closing clubs. The whole world has shisha, why ban it in Kenya?” he said.
According to the minister, the Ministry of health should instead tax shisha business in order to generate more revenue.
“If we have issues of health, put a tax. Why don’t you ban cigarettes? Why don’t you ban alcohol? I am not a smoker so I am not defending shisha smokers,” added Mr Balala.
“You don’t wake up overnight and close down some investments just because of your failure in enforcing rules,” he said.
“NEMA for example wakes up and decides to close a night club, in the guise of noise. This is one way of frustrating investors. You mean all along they never knew this club existed?”
Mr Balala has pointed out that a number of youth have been rendered jobless following the shisha ban and closure of the clubs.
He advised legislators to avoid developing and passing regulations that are likely to scare away investors and hurt the country’s economy.
The ban on shisha was effected last December in Kenya. Shisha smoking is also outlawed in Tanzania and Rwanda.