Expert warns against smoking shisha
A prominent health expert has warned against the dangers of smoking shisha (water pipe), which has reached alarming proportions in the Gulf states.
The warning came in a paper presented at the 2nd International Conference on Water-pipe Tobacco Smoking Research by Dr. Tawfeeq Khoja, who is also the general director of the Riyadh based executive office of health ministers of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.
“Shisha smoking is on the rise, especially among the youth who falsely believe it is less harmful than cigarette smoking,” said Dr. Khoja, criticizing the aggressive promotion campaigns of the risky habit.
In his paper on the role of media to combat shisha smoking, he reviewed the legislations in fighting the habit and called for reactivating them and imposing a ban on its smoking in public places.
He urged health awareness campaigns to step up their activities to combat the issue.
The Saudi Ministry of Interior had earlier banned shisha smoking in public areas some years ago in a bid to curb the harmful habit.
Municipalities responded by implementing the ban inside cafes in almost all the cities of the Kingdom but shisha could be smoked on their outskirts in the open.
However, some cafes continued to provide the shisha undercover on their premises or delivering it to homes.
Jeddah was the last city to implement the ban.
A research by the World Health Organization revealed that the volume of smoke inhaled in an hour-long shisha session is estimated to be equivalent to smoking between 200-300 cigarettes.
It also showed that on average, a smoker will inhale half a liter of smoke per cigarette while a shisha smoker can take in up to a liter of smoke.
Commenting on the risks of shisha smoking, Prof. Robert West, director of tobacco studies at University College London, said the greater the exposure in terms of duration and amount smoked, the greater the health risk.
He warned that although shisha tobacco is more flavorful than cigarettes coming in a variety of fruity and floral aromas, it contains the same toxicants known to cause lung caner and heart disease, besides respiratory problems, lung and mouth cancer and complications during pregnancy.