Waterpipe tobacco smoking

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Waterpipe smokingIntroduction to Water pipe tobacco smoking

Waterpipe smoking is a generic term; all waterpipes contain water through which smoke passes prior to reaching the smoker. Names vary according to geographical region but include: Shisha and Goza in Egypt and some other North African Countries, Nargile / Narghile in East Mediterranean Countries including Turkey and Syria and Hookah in India.

The tobacco that is smoked in water pipes is commonly known as shisha in the UK. It has been claimed that more than 100 million people worldwide smoke shisha daily. It is a common practice in the Middle East, Turkey, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and some parts of China.

Shisha tobacco is usually a combination of plain tobacco mixed with flavours (typically fruit) and aromatic substances. The composition of the tobacco used in shisha is variable.

Scientific studies to establish the adverse health consequences of shisha smoking point to dangers that are similar to those associated with cigarette smoking. The research conducted on shisha use has clearly shown that it has particularly serious health consequences on the lungs and heart. Lung cancer, cancers of the oesophagus, Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease, emphysema, low birth weight, precipitation of asthma attacks and pneumonia are some of the health hazards associated with shisha smoking.

Additional dangers not encountered with cigarette smoking are infectious diseases resulting from pipe sharing and the frequent addition of alcohol or psychoactive drugs to the tobacco.

Under normal shisha use the smoke produced from a single pipe contains approximately the same amount of nicotine and tar equivalent to 20 cigarettes. Research has also shown that after 45 minutes of shisha use expired air, carbon monoxide, plasma nicotine and heart rate are significantly elevated. Nicotine dependency may also result from repeated inhalation of tobacco smoke from shisha.

Most brands found in the UK are produced in Tunisia, Egypt, UAE and India.

Shisha Reminder: Guidance for Local Councils with shisha establishments Published February 2011

Guidance was developed in 2011 by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, the Trading Standards Institute and Local Government Regulation to help regulatory officers address compliance issues posed by shisha establishments. The supplementary guidance was designed to provide information to support effective investigation, inspection and enforcement measures.

It also supports a consistent approach to the application of the legislation so that the operators of businesses providing for shisha smoking will consider that they are being treated fairly and both employees and members of the public are properly protected.


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Page updated: 31 Jan 2014