Many people are misled into thinking that shisha pipes also called hookahs are safer than cigarettes due to their exotic smells and attractive waterpipes, according to the British Heart Foundation BHF. The same amount of smoke can be inhaled during a typical hour-long shisha session as from more than tobacco cigarettes, the BHF found. Yet 84 per cent of survey respondents thought it was equivalent to ten or fewer cigarettes. Researchers found that the majority of users are unaware that shisha smoking is linked to the same kinds of diseases as cigarette smoking, including cancer, heart disease, respiratory disease and problems during pregnancy.
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Around 15 per cent of people aged 25 to 34 - some of the most common users - believe there are no health harms from shisha at all, and 44 per cent think it is less harmful than cigarettes. Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the BHF, said: "Contrary to popular belief, shisha is not safer than smoking cigarettes. Don't be duped by the sweet smell and wholesome sounding fruity flavours - if you use shisha you are a smoker and that means you're putting your health at risk.
Worryingly, Freedom of Information data from local authorities in major towns and cities across the UK shows 53 per cent have - or have had - a shisha bar since , while more than 40 per cent have seen a rise in the number of shisha bars since the smoking ban came into force. Robin Hewings, Cancer Research UK's tobacco control manager, confirmed that shishas are not a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes.
Shishas are a health risk and we would urge people to treat them with caution. The research on shisha was carried out as part of the No Smoking Day campaign , a day UK smokers are urged to use as an opportunity to kick the habit. Most smokers say they wish they had never started. One of the key objectives for the health community is to prevent the next generation from taking up smoking.
Pushing for plain, standardised packaging for all tobacco products, so all packs are the same and host large health warnings, is a vital part of this drive.
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