Yesterday I focused on the link between Shisha and mental health and today am going to share what I have found out about it compared to tobacco.After many years of successful anti-tobacco campaigns, almost everyone is familiar with the risks of smoking. Most people do not understand the health harms of cigarettes compared with those of other smoking devices like Shisha.In Western countries it is commonly referred to as hookah, developing countries users like to call it shisha and others generally call it waterpipe.Shisha is a smoking device dating back to sixteenth century Persia according to available data.These days, the common form of Shisha consists of a bowl where tobacco is placed and heated by a piece of charcoal, which sits on top.The smoke produced goes down a tube and is passed through water before being inhaled through the mouthpiece of a hose or pipe. As the smoker inhales, air is drawn into the charcoal bowl, which helps the tobacco smoulder.The water is meant to cool and filter the smoke.The myth that smoking using a Shisha is safer than smoking cigarettes is based on the false belief that the water filters dangerous chemicals out of the smoke before it’s inhaled through the mouth and into the lungs.It was thought that water rendered the smoke harmless. But despite being passed through water, the smoke from the Shisha contains similarly high levels of carcinogens, heavy metals and carbon monoxide that are found in cigarette smoke.Although some nicotine may be absorbed by the water, the Shisha smoker is still inhaling sufficient quantities to cause addiction.And any decrease in nicotine consumption that comes with smoking a Shisha over a cigarette may simply result in the user smoking more and therefore being exposed to higher levels of cancer-causing chemicals.
In fact, Shisha smoking is actually likely to be more dangerous than cigarette smoking because it’s commonly associated with more frequent puffing, deeper inhalation and longer smoking sessions.Each Shisha session typically lasts over 40 minutes, during which the smoke is inhaled 50 to 200 times.Over a one-hour session, this would equate to the smoker inhaling 100 to 190 times the amount of smoke inhaled from a single cigarette.Further, hookahs are often smoked by groups in cafes and restaurants where the mouthpiece is shared. This raises the possibility of transmitting infectious diseases such like tuberculosis and hepatitis.Not only can the social context of this type of smoking attract young smokers, who wouldn’t otherwise be attracted to cigarettes, but additives mixed with the tobacco may give the smoke more appealing smells and flavours. Sadly, the inhalation of second-hand smoke is also more of a problem where Shisha are used because not only does the smoke contain cancer-causing chemicals from the tobacco but it also mixes with the smoke from the charcoal being used to burn the tobacco.The disease outcomes from smoking Shisha are the same as with cigarette smoking, which increases the risk of developing a range of cancers including those of the mouth and head and neck, lung, bladder and stomach, along with chronic lung disease, cardiovascular disease, decreased fertility and for women who smoke during pregnancy, babies with a low birth weight. More scientific studies are needed to investigate the prevalence of smoking Shisha, along with the health consequences and how best to manage addiction in this setting.But it’s already clear that Shisha require regulation and health warnings like any other smoking device.Bottom its not less safer than cigarettes.