Anorak News | The Killer Shisha tobacco scaremongering blows up in smoke

The Killer Shisha tobacco scaremongering blows up in smoke

by | 22nd, March 2012

HOW dangerous are shisha pipes? As No Smoking Day looms, a barage of press releases have gone out wanting that shihsa smoke is a killer.

The Daily Mail is informative:

How an hour spent smoking trendy shisha pipes is as harmful as a HUNDRED cigarettes

Non-trendy ones are just as dangerous. In Singapore, Yahoo says:

Shisha: 200 times more harmful than cigarettes?

The Mail goes on:

But the World Health Organisation has warned that a one-hour shisha session can be as harmful as smoking 100 cigarettes.

Can be? Or is?

Sharmeen Ziauddin has data:

This is because a cigarette smoker typically takes between eight and 12 puffs, inhaling 0.5 to 0.6 litres of smoke. But during hour-long shisha sessions smokers may take up to 200 drags, ranging from 0.15 to 1 litre of smoke each.

May? Sharmeen has opinion laced amid the hard facts:

That’s because although shisha tobacco tastes nicer than cigarettes, it contains all the same toxicants known to cause lung cancer and heart disease.

Other pressure groups noticed the WHO’s old news. On Fife Today, we were told:

British Heart Foundation (BHF) Scotland issued the warning about the exotic water pipes as thousands of Scots are expected to stub out their cigarettes on No Smoking Day.

It said a survey revealed that 84% of respondents in Scotland believed a shisha was the equivalent to smoking 10 cigarettes or fewer while “almost everyone” polled was unaware the amount of smoke inhaled in a typical one-hour session could equal that of 100.

The survey also showed that 9% of Scots use the pipes, which are also known as hookahs.

Cancer Research UK says:

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…and you’re also exposed to toxins from the wood or charcoal used to burn the tobacco.”


Worryingly, Freedom of Information data from 133 local authorities in major towns and cities across the UK shows 53 per cent have – or have had – a shisha bar since 2007, while more than 40 per cent have seen a rise in the number of shisha bars since the smoking ban came into force.

The Lancashire Telegraph says Shins is a country:

Blackburn revealed as the shisha capital of the north

Blackburn has 14 shisha “bars”.

Great. Bars are opening in a recession. Hang out the bunting. Many if not all are booze-free establishments. That’s good, isn’t it? No drunken brawls. No binge drinking. More shisha, pleasa.

In Vancouver, the hookah is a pipe of peace:

Lounge owner Shahab Bakhtiar…came to Canada in 1980 from Iran… He hopes to showcase the Iranian commitment to hospitality and wants to educate people about Iran. “I am trying to show people that our culture and our people are peaceful.”

The Bolton News says:

But Carlos Als, owner of Taboosh Shisha Bar, in Bank Street, Bolton, said he did not believe smoking shisha was as dangerous as smoking cigarettes.

He said most of the fruity tobacco used in shisha pipes contained very little or no nicotine.

The WHO did conduct a study as part of the “tobacco free initiative”. The study took place in Rio back in 2005.

It says the waterpipes do “absorb some of the nicotine”. That 100 cigarettes healine is based on the idea that the heavy smoker is addicted and looking to satisfy a craving, puffing until the nicotine hit is sated. To the WHO this means that the smoker will puff away until they get a hit. And because the smoke contains less nicotine than ciggies, the smoker will puff harder and longer.

The WHO offers no hard data on levels of toxins in the smoke.

Back in 2009 the BBC produced The Trouble With Hubble Bubble.

It found one session of smoking shisha resulted in carbon monoxide levels at least four to five times higher than the amount produced by one cigarette. High levels of carbon monoxide can lead to brain damage and unconsciousness.

A reply was forthcoming:

Dr Kamal Chaouachi, a tobacco expert who teaches at Paris IX University, has written to the BBC to complain about a news story and radio programme the corporation produced on August 24 2009…

The BBC stands accused of relying on research which has been neither peer-reviewed nor published. The Department of Health and the Tobacco Control Collaborating Centre stand accused of issuing ‘science by press release.’…

In an interview with Christopher Snowdon, Dr Chaouachi said: “…The bottom line is that shisha smokers actually experience the same carbon monoxide exposure as cigarette or cigar smokers do. Besides, their exposure is, unlike cigarette smokers who generally smoke every day, not chronic. For the great majority of them, they indulge in their habit only 1 to 3 times a week. Even in the case of a daily exposure, keep in mind that the carbon monoxide is quickly washed out from the body because its half life is only about 3 to 4 hours.”

The bottom line is that we don’t know. The WHO admits as much when it says:

“Surprisingly little research addressing tobacco smoking using a water pipe.”

And it hasn’t done any…

Posted: 22nd, March 2012 | In: Key Posts, The Consumer Comments (2) | TrackBack | Permalink