Smoking shisha has become a trendy pursuit among young people today. Many young adults gather in shisha cafes and share the pipe between friends. They see smoking shisha as a pleasant and relaxing experience and according to a recent study as many as 44% of them believe smoking shisha is less harmful than smoking cigarettes. But here’s the shocking truth – research shows that smoking shisha tobacco is actually more dangerous than smoking cigarettes.
Why do young people think smoking shisha is safer?
Many people wrongly believe that bubbling tobacco smoke through water makes it safe. This false belief first originated in the 15th century when a physician called Hakim Abu Faith wanted to make smoking shisha safer. He believed that if the tobacco smoke passed through a filter it would be safer, so he devised a small receptacle of water that smoke could pass through. However, modern research states that filtering tobacco smoke through cold water does not make it safer.
The ancient belief of a 15th century physician combined with exotic looking waterpipes and a combination of sweet smelling tobaccos, honey molasses and dried fruit, along with deceptive advertising and a lack of information to educate people about the dangers of smoking shisha, has duped young people into believing that smoking shisha is harmless. While, on the other hand, there is widespread awareness about the dangers of smoking cigarettes. It’s no wonder that young people have been conned into believing that smoking shisha is a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes.
Shisha use has some extra harmful risks
Shisha smokers often inhale more smoke than cigarette smokers because of the length of time a shisha session lasts. One session can last up to an hour during which shisha smokers will inhale a large amount of tobacco smoke as well as the second-hand smoke of others. A report from The World Health Organization (WHO) noted that the smoke inhaled in a typical one-hour hookah session can equal 100 cigarettes or more. The WHO report also claims that even after it has been passed through water, shisha tobacco smoke still contains high levels of cancer-causing chemicals. Shisha smoke may also contain combusted charcoal or wood which can increase the chemicals in the smoke that cause cancer and heart disease.
Shisha tobacco smoke can contain
- up to 36 times more carcinogenic tar than cigarette smoke
- up to 15 times more carbon monoxide
- higher levels of lead, nickel and arsenic
- hydrogen cyanide and a whole bunch of potent carcinogens
- nicotine, a chemical that causes an addictive effect
Also, shisha contains tobacco; therefore, it is linked to the same serious and life-threatening illnesses as cigarettes, such as cancers, heart disease, lung disease and many more.
And, that’s not all! If the shisha pipe is not properly cleaned, sharing it with others can increase the risk of contracting diseases, such as tuberculosis, hepatitis, meningitis and other infectious diseases.
Since smoking shisha involves smoking for a longer period of time, inhaling higher levels of toxins deeper into the lungs and also sharing the waterpipe, there can be little doubt that smoking shisha is not just as dangerous as smoking cigarettes - but even worse.
Image by Michael Dorausch