The Dangers of Smoking Shisha: Quit Now!

Shisha or also known as sheesha, is a tobacco mixed with molasses or honey that is used for Hookah smoking.  Unlike the tobacco in cigars and cigarettes, which contains industrial chemicals and artificial additives, shisha is made of only natural substances and comes in a wide range of flavors.

Shisha is said to have originated from the northwestern provinces of India along the border of Pakistan in Rajasthan and Gujarat. It soon traveled to Iran and the rest of the
Arab world. However, it was in Turkey that completed its revolution, where design and tradition took form as part of its cultural characteristic.  Since then, shisha has been the standard of smoking in the Middle East.

Why shisha has become so popular?

With its entirely different smoking experience, shisha has become so popular not only in the Middle East but also worldwide. It has been used to smoke away stress because of the relaxing sensation that one gets and the pleasure of a flavourful smoke as well.

Another reason for its increasing popularity is the widespread misconception that it is a safer alternative to cigarette and cigar smoking. Aside from its misleading labeling like “contains 0 mg tar,” many believe that since tobacco is inhaled through water, the harmful ingredients are filtered.

Unlike cigarette smokers, shisha users are not well informed of the damaging effects of shisha to the body. Only few research have been done addressing the shisha or tobacco smoking using water pipe, and on its prevention and cessation strategies.

The health effects & dangers of shisha

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Study Group on Tobacco Product Regulation (TobReg), contrary to the popular belief, the smoke that comes from a water pipe contains numerous toxicants known to cause lung cancer, heart disease and other diseases. Although it is true that the water does absorb some of the nicotine, still shisha smokers are exposed to a sufficient dose of nicotine to cause addiction.  The World Health Organization further revealed that a single session of smoking shisha yields a nicotine intake equivalent to more than one pack of cigarettes.  This means that a shisha user can expect the same risk that cigarette smokers are facing.

In the research conducted by the Department of Health and Center for Tobacco Control Research, people who smoke shisha or herbal tobacco can suffer from high carbon monoxide. As with cigarettes, the presence of high levels of carbon monoxide, tar and heavy metals can be carcinogenic or cancer causing in the body.  Thus, there is a high risk not only for cigarette smokers but also for shisha smokers to suffer from cancer, particularly of the lips, mouth, tongue, throat and lungs, and also cardiovascular disease.

Other health risks

Not many shisha users realise that the risk of getting communicable diseases is very high.  Shisha smoking may not directly cause it but it is associated with the sharing of water pipes.  Getting tuberculosis, herpes and other common illnesses like cold and flu viruses are some of the dangers of shisha which can be another problem.

Prepare yourself to quit

Quitting can be very hard but it’s taking the steps to really quit that makes it even harder.  You may sometimes not be able to control yourself from thinking negative thoughts on how difficult it might be to quit shisha especially if you have been used to it for quite a long time, but staying committed will help you quit shisha successful.

The need to develop a strong personal reason to stop shisha is also very important.  If you want to live a longer and healthier life, and if you care about the people you love, you need to get yourself focused on your goal.

When you feel stress building up, you are likely to continue smoking shisha. Start conditioning yourself physically through exercise. You will not only build up your health and strength but it also makes you better able to respond to stress.

With support from friends and family, you are much likely to succeed in quitting shisha.  Telling them what kind of support you need, when do you need it and making clear what you expect from them helps you pursue your shisha cessation goals.

Helpful methods to quit shisha

Some people get help through Medication Therapy, which is considered to be very effective.  It is very crucial to talk to your physician on the different options of medication since not all smokers are the same.  Your physician will figure out which medicine is right and what are the other methods to help you out in quitting shisha.

If you prefer for a more social interaction, Cognitive Behavior Therapy works for you.  It involves working with a trained therapist to talk about issues and learn ways of coping with your feelings and breaking your shisha smoking habits. Its focus is on increasing your confidence in the ability to quit shisha.

Another helpful method to quit shisha is through Motivational interviewing. It is a kind of counselling technique to help you explore and resolve uncertainties about changing your behaviour. In this method, it seeks to avoid an aggressive or confrontational approach. It guides you towards choosing to change your behaviour and to encourage self-belief.

Keep a positive attitude

Joining a support group will give you an opportunity to meet and talk to other people with similar concerns. Aside from your family and friends, these people will give you additional support and you get new ideas.

Set aside a time for things you enjoy most and makes you feel better. It will help you feel relaxed and forget about stress.  Remember, stress can trigger the urge to go back smoking shisha.

Take also a time out for prayer, meditation or visualisation.  Massage, exercise or any other calming tasks can also help focus your thoughts.

Stay active and give yourself a healthy diet.  It gives you more stamina and a steady supply of energy.

There might be a time where you feel hopeless, talk to your physician right away and share your feelings with your family and friends.