Regulating the use of dokha

Consumption of dokha among teenagers is an issue that demands better attention

Shopkeepers have reported a sharp rise in dokha use among youth. Delores Johnson / The National
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Despite provisions barring its sale to young people, the use of dokha among minors appears to be growing. As The National has reported, teenagers are able to buy dokha pipes for Dh50 and dokha for as little as Dh25 from shops in Dubai and Sharjah without presenting any form of identification. Shopkeepers have reported a sharp rise in dokha use among young people because it has a strong appeal and is seen to offer value for money.

This issue needs more attention given the extent of our laws governing the sale of cigarettes and shisha. One of the major challenges in governing the sale of dokha is the lack of clear information on its content and the few studies on the long-term health effects of dokha on the body.

Some believe that dokha is healthier because it contains leaves, bark and herbs. There is, however, no scientific evidence for such claims. Such misconceptions have led many to ignore its harmful effects. A 2011 study demonstrated, on the other hand, that even though the medwakh bowl is smaller than pipes used in other parts of the world, it delivers comparatively high nicotine levels. The study also found that the negative effects of smoking tobacco such as increased heart rate, strained respiration and systolic blood pressure were clear in dokha smokers.

There is another consideration when it comes to young people purchasing dokha. If they are attracted to dokha for its low price and its light-headed highs, one measure would be to levy taxes on the products. Taxes on tobacco are already being discussed, so why not dokha? The challenge is determining what is actually in it, so that the substance can be appropriately taxed and regulated.

A full and impartial study of the contents of dokha and its long-term health effects would solve many problems related to its use. Not only would the authorities be able to properly levy taxes on its sale and use and thus make it less attractive for our youth but the health effect would be better understood. Once misconceptions are dismantled, the public’s awareness will naturally increase.