Is Hookah Legal in Nigeria?

Shisha smoking has become widespread across Nigeria. If you happen to be at a party organized by young people, especially those in major cities, you’ll likely come across a hookah for smoking shisha. Go to the nightclubs and you’d also notice how common smoking shisha has become. You may already know of the existence of tobacco control laws that impose some restrictions on tobacco products like shisha and cigarettes.  But what about hookah, is it legal in Nigeria? Read on to find out if hookah is legal in Nigeria and some additional useful information on shisha smoking. 

Is Hookah Legal in Nigeria  

  • Is Hookah Legal In Nigeria? 

Hookah is legal in Nigeria as no enactment has explicitly prohibited its use. But since hookah is used for smoking shisha; a tobacco product, the provisions of tobacco control laws of Nigeria may impose some restrictions on its use. Per the provisions of the tobacco control laws, hookah may not be used to smoke shisha in public transport, indoor public places, and workplaces. Also, hookah (and other tobacco products) may not be sold to people under the age of eighteen years. 

  • What is the Position of the Law on Hookah in Nigeria?  

No law expressly prohibits the use, sale, purchase, and production of hookah in Nigeria. Since hookah is the apparatus that is used in smoking shisha; a tobacco product, enacted tobacco control laws may impose some restrictions on the use of hookah in Nigeria. 

According to the provisions of the Tobacco Control Act of 2015, there are some places where smoking tobacco products like shisha and cigarettes is prohibited. And since hookah is used to smoke shisha, its use is prohibited in smoke-free places. Using hookah to smoke shisha in smoke-free places is an offense. Below is a list of smoke-free places where hookah may not be used to smoke shisha:  

  • Indoor public places 
  • Indoor workplaces 
  • Public transport 
  • Restaurants and bars (and wherever food and drink is served or consumed) 
  • Playgrounds, amusement parks, and other public gatherings 
  • Bus stops, vehicle parks, seaports

There are also restrictions imposed on the advertisement, promotion, and sponsorship of tobacco products in Nigeria. According to the Tobacco Control Act of 2015 and other tobacco control laws, retailers and manufacturers of shisha (and other tobacco products) are prohibited from promoting and advertising their products, unless the audience receiving such adverts or promotions are consenting adults. Because of this, hookah may not be used to advertise or promote shisha, unless the audience for such advertisements and promotions are consenting adults. 

Furthermore, the provisions of the tobacco control laws in Nigeria restrict the sale of tobacco products to people under 18 years. Though hookah itself is not a tobacco product, this restriction may apply since it is directly used in smoking shisha; a tobacco product. The restriction also forbids shisha, cigarettes, and other tobacco products from being sold over the internet. This may also apply to hookah, however, we aren’t sure since hookah is not explicitly listed as a tobacco product. 

Below are the tobacco control laws which may impose restrictions on hookah use in Nigeria: 

  • Tobacco Smoking (Control) Decree (No. 20) 1990 
  • Tobacco Smoking (Control) Act (1990, No. 20)
  • A Law to Prohibit the Advertisement of Cigarette and Other Tobacco-Related Products (2002, No. 4) 
  • Nigerian Industrial Standard (NIS) 463:2008, Standard for Tobacco and Tobacco Products – Specifications for Cigarettes (2014) 
  • National Industrial Tobacco Control Act 2015
  • Nigerian Industrial Standard (NIS) 463:2018, Standard for Tobacco and Tobacco Products – Specifications for Cigarettes 2018 
  • National Tobacco Control Regulations 2019

Aside from the enacted laws in Nigeria that regulate tobacco products in Nigeria, there is also the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control which Nigeria became part of on January 18, 2006. 

  • What is Hookah and How does it Work? 

Hookah is sometimes referred to as a water pipe, maybe a single or multi-stemmed apparatus for smoking shisha. To use the hookah, shisha (a tobacco molasse) is loaded onto a bowl (also referred to as the head of the hookah), after which the top of the bowl is covered with perforated aluminum foil. A lit coal would then be placed atop the perforated aluminum foil covering the head of the hookah. The heat from the lit coal heats the tobacco, which the shisha smoker would have to draw smoke using his mouth from a slender flexible tube (commonly referred to as a hose). But before the smoker inhales the smoke he has drawn from the hose, it first bubbles through the water vase section of the hookah, allowing the shisha smoker to inhale cool and humidified smoke. 

A typical shisha smoking session lasts anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. And according to a study conducted by the World Health Organization, a 60-minute shisha smoking session is equivalent to smoking 100 or more cigarettes.

  • What are the Risks Associated with Shisha Smoking? 

Shisha smoking is similar to cigarette smoking in terms of associated risks. Tar, nicotine, carbon monoxide, and heavy metals are substances found in both shisha and cigarettes that pose some health concerns to smokers.  

The associated risks of shisha smoking include but are not limited to heart attack, stroke, cancer, decreased fertility, and respiratory infections and conditions. 

  • How Does Shisha Smoking Compare to Cigarette Smoking? 

Many shisha smokers feel that smoking tobacco through hookah poses fewer health challenges when compared with cigarettes. That’s not the case, however. Tar and heavy metals which make cigarette smoking unhealthy are also present when hookah is used to smoke tobacco. More so, nicotine which is the addictive component in cigarettes is also present in shisha. 

The smoke produced during a shisha smoking session is also as toxic to the smoker and people around just as that of the cigarette. Carbon monoxide, for example. The amount of smoke produced during a shisha smoking session is substantially more than the smoke generated by cigarette sticks. When you put into consideration the typical duration a shisha-smoking session lasts, you’ll see that a cigarette smoker is exposed to way less smoke than his shisha-smoking counterpart.  


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