Hubbly bubbly a threat to public health

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OTJIWARONGO, 08 August 2012 A hubbly bubbly pipe and a packet of molasses flavoured tobacco. (Photo by: Mulisa Simiyasa) NAMPA

Alvine Kapitako

Windhoek-A social worker in the Ministry of Health and Social Services is concerned that many parents are ‘ignorant’ about the effects that the hubbly bubbly and drug abuse might have on their children.

Speaking in a wide-ranging interview with New Era manager of Etegameno rehabilitation centre on the outskirts of Windhoek, Verona Du Preez, spoke about the dangers of the hubbly bubbly.

She appeared shocked by the attitudes of some parent towards the hubbly bubbly saying, “parents are buying it as presents for their children because they are convinced that it is harmless”.

Hubbly bubbly is an instrument for smoking tobacco, which is often flavoured, by inhaling it through a liquid medium such as water. It consists of a base container, usually made of glass attached to one or more smoking tubes.

Hubbly bubbly is a “very popular culture thing”, an employee of African Gemstone said during a New Era investigation.

A small hubbly bubbly costs N$299 while the big one costs N$699.
This excludes coal, foil and flavour. Although shops do not sell it to children under 18-years-old, the employee said “parents are the ones buying it for their children”.
Hubbly bubbly is equally popular among people between the ages 22 and 35, the employee said.

“It contains tobacco that just has flavours so it’s really harmful,” another employee told New Era on enquiry.

However, Du Preez said hubbly bubbly is harmful because it contains huge amounts of nicotine, which is normally regulated in a cigarette.

“So they (young people) inhale huge amounts of tar and nicotine in one session of sucking the hubbly bubbly. But these days you get flavoured tobacco in the hubbly bubbly so the young children mix it with marijuana or dagga or any other type of drug that they use, and they smoke it with the hubbly bubbly,” Du Preez said.

She added, “It’s difficult for the parents to smell it. So hubbly bubbly is one of the famous drugs for use by young children.”

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), a water pipe smoking session may expose the smoker to more smoke over a longer period than occurs when smoking a cigarette.

Therefore, a water pipe smoker may inhale as much smoke during one session as a cigarette smoker would inhale consuming 100 or more cigarettes.

“Many schools have drug-free policies, but the policies should be implemented by the parents to ensure that the children do not use drugs,” Du Preez remarked.

She further said that some children get intoxicated without their parents knowing that they are hooked on drugs. Du Preez also said that many parents do not realise what drugs do to the body.

“Drugs are currently very much available in Namibia. Although the police are trying their very best, the children are targeted,” added Du Preez.

She further said that many parents go to the Etegameno rehabilitation centre desperately seeking help for their addicted children.

The centre helps people addicted to alcohol and drugs that are 18 years and above. She further warned that marijuana affects children’s cognitive functioning.

“Those are the children that function at a very low level at school. They also have behavioural problems. They are also more likely to do petty crimes.

“They’re also likely to be used by drug smugglers to sell the drugs. So they are the ones that also don’t complete their school and end up as street children.

“So we really don’t want that. I have seen the pain and misery of parents that are literally stuck with those type of children”. Social workers in the regions can assist children with addiction to alcohol and substance abuse, Du Preez said.

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