Shisha smoking has been labelled as fashionable in the recent past. Several night clubs now boast of an exclusive shisha lounge. Youngsters frequent these joints with disturbing frequency. And from the selfies they take and the poses they strike while at it; you can tell that they do feel trendy.
If this sounds new to you as it does to most people, shisha is a relatively new way of smoking tobacco. The tobacco is flavoured with fruit molasses like strawberry and apple then heated. The smoke passes through a water chamber and is then drawn through a pipe to a mouthpiece where it’s smoked. A typical shisha scene contains a number of smokers surrounding one vessel and smoking through the individual pipes.
Some shisha smokers argue that the smoke is not as harmful since the water since the water filters away some toxins. However, no research has independently confirmed this. If anything, research suggests that smoking shisha is not any less harmful than smoking cigarettes. Shisha smoke tastes different because of the flavoured effect, but that does not eliminate the harmful properties of tobacco.
It is estimated that a cigarette smoker takes between 8 to 12 puffs, inhaling about half a litre of smoke per cigarette. Shisha smoking is different. Remember it is regarded as a social activity, so the smokers will sit around the joint for hours smoking while chatting. For every hour, a smoker can take upto 100 puffs containing up to 0.5 litres of smoke each. Do the math. Disturbing isn’t it? By the end of the smoking session, a very large volume of smoke has been inhaled.
Research on the effects of shisha points to results similar to those of cigarette smoke. It is tobacco either way, even when the mode of smoking is modified. The fact that the smoke is less pungent after passing through the water does not make it any less toxic. Here are some dangers that you’re exposing yourself to by smoking shisha:
- The smoke contains high levels of toxic substances such as carbon monoxide, tar, heavy metals and other chemicals that cause cancer. In fact, shisha produces more carbon monoxide than cigarettes.
- Prolonged smoking is associated with lung/oral cancer and heart disease.
- The levels of nicotine produced can lead to tobacco addiction. Long-term shisha smokers find it hard to kick the habit just as people struggle to quit smoking.
- Second-hand smoking poses similar dangers as those associated with cigarette smoke.
- Pregnant women who smoke shisha have low weight babies.
- Hooker pipes used in bars and not properly cleaned can lead to infectious diseases.
Most people are introduced to shisha as a largely harmless pastime. Others ‘downgrade’ to shisha from cigarette smoking believing it’s less harmful. Either way, it seems that shisha smoke is more destructive than many think or want to admit. As you take your next puff of this ‘trendy’ drug, beware of what you’re exposing yourself to.