Shisha Smoking: More Dangerous than Cigarettes and You Look Weird
Are you one of the increasing number of young people who is recreationally smoking Shisha, branded as a ‘healthier’ alternative to ordinary tobacco cigarettes? It may shock you to learn that according to the World Health Organisation, smoking Shisha for an hour long session is the equivalent of smoking 100 ordinary cigarettes.
The trend of smoking Shisha, a form of flavoured tobacco smoked from a waterpipe, is rapidly soaring thanks to the increasing arrival of Shisha lounges and bars throughout the UK. Far from being the ‘safer’ alternative to ordinary tobacco, smoking Shisha exposes its consumers to the same risks associated with ordinary smoking: lung cancer, respiratory problems and heart problems.
But even more worryingly, a recent study recently revealed that a smoker who took part in a 60 minute session of smoking Shisha would inhale four-five times the amount of Carbon Monoxide that they would if they were smoking an ordinary cigarette. This is because whilst ordinary smokers tend to finish a cigarette in 10-15 drags, a Shisha smoker could easily take 100-200 drags in one session of smoking. Using a waterpipe to smoke also means that the drags of a Shisha smoker are deeper and lead to increased consumption of fatal toxins. Indeed, inhaling Carbon Monoxide is an assosiated cause of irreversible brain damage. In cruel and shocking irony, instead of Shisha smoking being a reduced risk form of smoking as many young people believe, it seems that in fact it may be more dangerous to smoke Shisha than ordinary tobacco.
Yet the real shocking fact is the lack of awareness of the dangers of Shisha, amongst young people. Out of a survey of 30 people aged 18-21 questioned, 24 thought that smoking Shisha was less harmful than smoking ordinary tobacco. Whilst the public are made aware of the dangers of smoking cigarettes, the dangers of Shisha are not widely advertised and thus millions of Shisha consumers are being kept in the dark as to what dangerous substances they may be inhaling on a regular basis.
One female Shisha smoker with whom we spoke commented, “I was shocked to learn the truth about Shisha. I go to Shisha tents all of the time. No one ever tells you that it’s harmful for you.” In fact, whilst tobacco products sold in shops are required by law to remain hidden from sight, conversely, Shisha bars and lounges are promoted amidst a nightlife blaze of neon lights. Whilst smoking cigarettes is discouraged by hard-hitting packaging, smoking Shisha is encouraged by promotional deals and attractive smoking environments which Shisha bars offer. Smoking Shisha is advertised by such venues as a casual social activity, so that no one would ever suspect the deadly risks involved.
It seems that a lot needs to be done in order to make the public – young people in particular – aware of the dangers of Shisha. The alarming myth that Shisha is less harmful than ordinary cigarettes should not be believed: this illusion is all smoke and mirrors.