A year ago, undercover police officers in Mombasa raided several joints that were selling shisha. During the crackdown, 31 people were arrested among them nightclub managers.

It is now five years since the government banned the consumption of shisha in the country.

Investigations conducted by this reporter reveal existence of a new electronic device used to smoke tobacco.

The device is common in the streets of the coastal city and is being peddled by drug dealers.

In the streets, the gadget is called vapor.

E-cigarettes produce an aerosol by heating a liquid that usually contains nicotine—the addictive drug in regular cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products.

Instead of smoking tobacco or bhang directly, the user inhales vapor hence the name ‘vaping’

It is similar to shisha, however, for the electronic vapors they are small in size and portable.

“They come in different shapes including a look-alike of pen and watch. This has made it easy for underage children to access them and even easier to consume while in school compounds,” says Naima Omar, a healthcare worker.

Ms Omar explains the availability of the substance has become a norm in Mombasa streets.

Most parents would mistake it to be a pen or watch, she says.

Out of curiosity, we wanted to find out how accessible were the Vapors.

In one of the shops within the Mombasa CBD areas, the cheapest goes for Sh400 while an expensive one is sold at Sh800, depending on where you buy them.

But why are children more attracted to it?

It contains different flavors such as strawberry and vanilla.

“When one smokes it, you would not notice the smell of the bhang because it has a flavor, “adds Ms Omar.

According to the shop seller, on a good day, they would sell five to six of the electronic vapor device which in a month would roughly earn them Sh96,000.

“Two years ago, the electronic Vapors devices that were a must to be charged became common and easily accessible attracting attention of the security authorities. Concerns were raised and they were flashed out of the market.

But since last year, they have implemented a new one that does not require to undergo a charging process,” says Abdallah Abdulrahman, a community policing officer.

Ms Omar who also acts as a child human right defender says, “The relative agencies should intervene and ban the consumption of the illegal electronic device. Students have become targets. When one gets addicted to them they lack appetite and become thin.”

According to the NACADA Board of Director Farida Rashid, the Vapors are sneaked in from other countries.

“They are sold in some of the supermarkets. But how are they finding their way into our country when we have security at the borders? Mombasa is usually a target because it is known to be a drug hotspot area, hence why it becomes easy for people to sell them.

“When parents are urged to report the cases they are ignorant saying they fear for their lives. It is time for them to be on the fore frontline to help fight and curb the drug menace problem in the city,” says Ms Rashid.

While on a visit to Kilifi County, President William Ruto called for the closure of all loopholes and routes suspected to be used by drug barons to sneak illegal substances into Kenya.

His sentiments were backed by Mombasa Muslim clerics, who said the drug problem was serious on the Coast.

Sheikh Muhdhar Khitamy, the chairperson of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims noted the students now use electronic ‘vaping’ devices that simulate tobacco smoking.

The Vapor is common within the Middle East countries and Europe.

  1. Sourced from Nation

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