Before the ban : an exploratory study of a local khat market in East London, U.K

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Before the ban : an exploratory study of a local khat market in East London, U.K

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Publication Article, peer reviewed scientific
Title Before the ban : an exploratory study of a local khat market in East London, U.K
Author(s) Kassim, Saba ; Dalsania, Asha ; Nordgren, Johan ; Klein, Axel ; Hulbert, Josh
Date 2015
English abstract
Background Khat is a green leaf with amphetamine-like effects. It is primarily used among people in Africa, the Middle East and in the diaspora communities from these countries. Prior to the prohibition of khat in the UK on 24 June 2014, there was almost no information available on key aspects of the local khat market. Methods A cross-sectional study was conducted in 2012 using snowball sampling, Privileged Access Interviewing and area mapping in order to identify khat sale establishments. Data was collected via face-to-face interviews using mixed methods for data collection. This included information about the establishments selling khat, khat pricing and its use among different ethnic minority groups, in addition to the potential sale of khat to children and risk assessment (e.g. use of pesticides on khat). Results Five out of seven sellers identified agreed to participate. Sellers described their khat sale establishments as ‘community centres’ which included, for example, a restaurant basement. The sellers’ history of selling khat ranged between 1–15 years and khat’s sale took place between 2pm-10pm. Miraa (e.g. Lara) from Kenya was the most popularly used khat variety, sold in pre-wrapped bundles of approximately 250 g costing £3 each and delivered four days a week. Harari (e.g. Owdi) from Ethiopia was sold in 200 g, 400 g and 1 kg bundles, priced between £5 and £20 and delivered two days a week. The primary benefit of khat use was reported to be social interaction. The customers were predominantly adult males of Somali origin. Most sellers claimed a self-imposed ban on sales to children under 18 years old. Khat bundles had no labelling describing variety or weight and sellers had no knowledge of the use of pesticides on khat and did not advertise the risks associated with khat use. Conclusions Khat selling establishments were businesses that did not adhere to trade standards regulations (e.g. labelling khat bundles). They claimed to provide a community service (facilitating social interaction) to their predominately Somali customers. Without a better understanding of the dynamics of the khat market there is a risk that both health and social needs of the vulnerable populations involved in the market continue to go unaddressed. Future research should track changes in the now illicit khat market in order to evaluate the social and public health implications following the recent changes to the current UK regulatory environment regarding khat.
DOI (link to publisher's fulltext)
Publisher BioMed Central
Host/Issue Harm Reduction Journal;19
Volume 12
ISSN 1477-7517
Pages 1-9
Language eng (iso)
Subject(s) khat
public health
Tower Hamlets
drug policy
khat market
Privileged access interviewer
Humanities/Social Sciences
Research Subject Categories::SOCIAL SCIENCES
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