Windhoek — Members of Parliament have adopted a motion calling for a total ban of the use of hubbly bubblies, also known as water pipes or hookahs, which is rife among the youth.
The motion adopted on Wednesday, was tabled on Tuesday by Deputy Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare Lucia Witbooi to discuss and consider the high rate of water pipe usage and its accessibility to the youth.
She argued that the hookah pipe was foreign to Namibia, saying it is something adopted from outside and now the trend is growing.
It destroys the youth, especially schoolgoing children, Witbooi noted.
She said although the use of water pipes is regulated through the Tobacco Control Products Act of 2010, the implementation thereof is lacking, thus rendering the control and regulation of these water pipes non-existent.
"There is a need for this house to discuss and consider measures to combat the high rate of use and accessibility of hubbly-bubbly amongst our youth. There is no way that we can [turn] a blind eye without coming up with a solution," she said.
She further said the smoke from a water pipe contains numerous toxicants, known to cause lung cancer, heart disease, respiratory disease and are harmful during pregnancy. Witbooi said it is as harmful as any other tobacco product and is addictive.
She noted that cigarette smokers take 8 to 12 puffs over a 5 to 7 minute period and inhale 0.5 to 0.6 litres of smoke, while water-pipe smoking sessions typically last 20 to 80 minutes, during which a smoker may take 50 to 200 puffs, which ranges from an intake of about 0.15 to 1 litre each.
She said there are some parents in Namibia who are buying and smoking water pipes with their children, thinking it is harmless, and warned against this trend.
Contributing to the motion, Swapo chief whip Evelyn! Nawases said hubbly-bubbly tobacco is even being sold in sweet shops and at fuel stations.
"It must be noteworthy that the smoking of hubbly bubbly in public has been banned outright in several areas around the world. This includes the Middle East and Asian countries, where smoking the hookah pipe is an ancient tradition,' she maintained.
Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare Doreen Sioka said she had seen the use of water pipes herself, where young people were smoking all sorts of substances from it. She thus supported the motion and called on the youth to refrain from the use of the hubbly bubbly.
Minister of Education, Arts and Culture Katrina Hanse-Himarwa said even older people are using water pipes to smoke drugs, while yet others put in alcohol and inhale it. "Whoever is using it is suicidal. I hate it with a passion. There is need for a total ban on hubbly in Namibia," she said.
Urban and Rural Development Minister Sophia Shaningwa said she has had a negative experience with water pipes, as she found her boys had one in her yard.
"I called Chief [Abraham] Kanime to talk to my boys about it, as they are very young. Sometimes we just talk and don't give examples. They said they were given by their friends to keep it safe. I looked at my boy and he seemed so different. He was using hubbly bubbly."
She said diseases are being transmitted through sharing pipes and asked what Namibia benefits by allowing its use.
Deputy Finance Minister Natangwe Ithete proposed that the pipe should not just be banned from retail stores, but should be banned from being allowed into Namibia.