Shisha smoking
Shisha smoking has gained popularity among young people in Tanzania JAAFAR ASHTIYEH/AFP/Getty Images

Tanzania has banned the smoking of water pipes, known as shishas, over concerns smoking the pipe could be used to cover up alcohol or drug abuse.

Otherwise called hookahs, narghiles, arghilehs, or hubble bubbles, tobacco-laced shisha smoking was traditionally an activity associated with Arab or Asian groups in Tanzania, but the habit has recently gained popularity among young people in the East African nation. Some users, however, have been found replacing the water with marijuana- or alcohol-infused water.

Is shisha smoking dangerous?

While many believe shisha smoking is less harmful than cigarettes, researchers say the habit can lead to pulmonary abnormalities, even for light and intermittent smokers.

A single water-pipe session is equivalent to inhaling two to four times the amount of nicotine and a hundred times the amount of tar than when smoking a cigarette.

On 5 July, the Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa asked businesses in the country's business capital, Dar es Salaam, to stop shisha sales by Monday (11 July) over concerns they "resulted into temptation to indulge in all sorts of vices and eroding morals among the youth".

Majaliwa's order came as Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Paul Makonda on 5 July also declared war against shisha dealers.

"The statement by Mr Makonda came as a government directive. Therefore, all regional leaders, including mayors and district commissioners (DCs) should implement that directive with immediate effect," the Prime Minister is reported to have said at the Khoja Shia Ithnaasheri Mosque in Dar es Salaam.

Majaliwa also asked parents as well as religious and government leaders to fight against dealers and smokers.

President John Magufuli of the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) ruling party was elected in October last year, effectively extending the rule of the CCM, which has been ruling the country since independence in 1961. Majaliwa was appointed as Prime Minister on 19 November 2015.