Thursday, April 5, 2012

Dangers of shisha (narghile) smoking

Shisha, (also known as Hookah, waterpipe, narghile, or Qalyān) has recently become popular outside its native regions such as Middle East and India and I see many young people smoking shisha as a recreational activity when they meet with friends. This smoking device has a long flexible hose connected to a chamber in which tobacco is heated by charcoal put on it and the smoke is cooled and filtered by passing it through water before it is sucked through the mouthpiece.

Since the smoke is “filtered” through water and the smoke has a sweet, flavored smell many things it is less harmful than normal cigarette. But unfortunately, shisha smoking is more harmful than cigarette smoking. Both increase the risk of having lung cancer, oral and stomach cancer while damaging lung functions, blood vessels and sperm quality. Filtered smoke of shisha still contains toxic material such as nicotine, carbon monoxide, heavy metals and cancerous materials.  The problem with shisha is that it is smoked usually for a longer period of time (40 – 60 minutes) and a single shisha smoking session is almost equal to smoking 5 packages of cigarettes:
“The average hookah session typically lasts more than 40 minutes, and consists of 50 to 200 inhalations that each range from 0.15 to 0.50 liters of smoke. In an hour-long smoking session of hookah, users consume about 100 to 200 times the volume of smoke of a single cigarette.”[1]


A gram of tobacco in a shisha contains:

  • 802mg of tar, about 72 times that in a cigarette
  • 2.96mg of nicotine, almost four times in a cigarette
  • 143mg of carbon monoxide, about 11 times that in a cigarette [2]

And shisha has one more problem. Although the smoking mouthpiece is not shared during a shared shisha session, you can still get infectious disease such as tuberculosis and influenza through  shisha.

[1] – Hookah
[2] - Clearing The Air, The Straits Times

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