Is smoking shisha safer than ciggies?

Shisha, also known as hookah, narghile or goza, is a type of tobacco famous among the young, who gather at shisha cafes, sharing a pipe, thinking it is way safer than smoking cigarettes. Truth is, shisha is even more dangerous.

What is shisha?

To smoke shisha, you’ll need a pipe, a hose, a bowl and a water pipe with a smoke chamber.

You must use a special type of tobacco, heat it up, let the smoke pass through the water and finally be drawn up through a rubber hose. Then, you inhale the smoke with the mouthpiece.

Most people think shisha is safe because the water filters the toxic ingredients. However, it is not true. Studies have proven that filtering tobacco smoke through cold water does not make it safer to smoke.

In addition, shisha smokers are at a higher risk of developing health problems compared to their cigarette-smoking friends, mostly because the amount of tobacco they inhale is way greater in volume.

The main reason for this is the longer smoking sessions shisha smokers tend to have which leads to a greater volume of tobacco smoke inhaled.

To finish a session of shisha, one must smoke up to 60 minutes. According to a World Health Organisation report, one hour of smoking shisha equals to smoking 100 cigarettes or more.

The report also notes that shisha may have combusted charcoal or wood among its ingredients. Charcoal and wood can make shisha smoke more toxic, increasing the risks of cancer and heart disease.

Health risks posed by smoking shisha

Compared to cigarette smoke, shisha tobacco smoke can contain:

· 36 times more carcinogenic tar
· 15 times more carbon monoxide
· Higher levels of lead, nickel and arsenic
· Higher volumes of hydrogen cyanide and potent carcinogens
· Higher content of nicotine (this chemical is the culprit of addiction)

What’s more, shisha is a form of tobacco, thus has the same negative effects on human health as cigarettes.

These include life-threatening diseases like cancers, cardiovascular disease, lung disease and more.

Smoking shisha also increases the dangers posed by second-hand smoke. Pregnant women inhaling shisha smoke on a regular basis are more likely to give birth to babies with a lower weight.

There is also the possibility that shisha pipes are not cleaned properly which makes smokers more prone to contracting diseases linked to hygiene.

Besides, sharing pipes between friends raises the risks of spreading tuberculosis, hepatitis, meningitis, and more.

This article first appeared in hellodoktor.com and was reviewed by Dr Duyen Le. The Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.