Against a backdrop of clarion calls for stiffer enforcement of anti-tobacco laws, Shisha dealers brace for a bruising battle in court with the state.
Kenya banned Shisha in efforts to stop health problems caused by smoking.
Investors now say they stand to suffer irreparable loses running into billions of shillings and want the ban waived.They say there was no public participation before the blanket ban the government says aims at achieving universal health coverage by 2021.
The dealers who will be slugging it out in court have an additional contention lodged by the Association of Health Workers of Kenya, now enjoined in the fray as interested parties.
They say directly and indirectly 30,000 jobs are at stake in the face of the ban with January rent and school bills in waiting.
“They stand to suffer irreparable monetary damages, loss of income and employment…” Shisha investors lead lawyer Shella Sheikh told court.
The lawyer said the investors are “surprised,” and that the situation is dire unless the court steps in to waive the Ministry of Health notice.
Tobacco manufacturer, BAT, last year lost two cases against the State relating to enforcement of the same laws:
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“It is our humble prayer that you grant stay of orders as we canvass the substantive issues involved in this matter,” Sheikh added.
Ventilate their grievance
Justice Roslyn Aburili concurred that the Shisha investors had a case worth hearing and that they had a right to ventilate their grievance in court!“To apply for Judicial review orders is not frivolous or vexatious and it is fair and just to give room to ventilate…the application has merit,” the judge ruled and ordered parties to appear for the main hearing seeking to overhaul the Shisha ban.