The Danger of Smoking Shisha or Hooka



The Hazards of Shisha

The use of “shisha” also known as hookah or water pipe is rapidly increasing in the major cities. Unfortunately most people who use shisha are not aware of its harmful effects. Most restaurant owners tell their customers that it is merely flavored smoke and that there is no tobacco in it.


Recently, however, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a report on the health consequences of shisha use and it has proved to be an eye-opener. A commonly held belief is that shisha is harmless because the smoke first passes through water before it is inhaled. Theshisha smoker may inhale as much smoke during one session as a cigarette smoker would inhale consuming 100 or more cigarettes. Even after it has passed through water, the smoke produced by a shisha contains a high level of toxins, including carbon monoxide, heavy metals and other carcinogens.


A similar hazard is posed to other people who are not directly using shisha by means of passive smoking. It is indeed sad that in spite of an ordinance in place, which bans smoking in public places many restaurants; offer shisha to their customers. Tobacco used in these water pipes is often sweetened and flavored, making it very appealing to children and teenagers. A survey done on youngsters of school-going age in Karachi recently showed that almost 70 per cent had tried shisha in the past six months, and this included children as young as seven.


Many of the commercially available packets, which are used for shisha smoking, have misleading labels such as 0.5 per cent nicotine and zero tar. WHO in its report has strongly recommended that healthcare professionals educate the public about the potential dangers of shisha use. Moreover, the sharing of shisha between people poses an additional risk of TB, herpes, flu, meningitis and hepatitis transmission. I would urge the ministry of health not only to ban shisha use in the restaurants but also to take other practical steps for the full implementation of the “Prohibition of smoking ordinance 2002” in the country.



 Shisha 200 times worse than a cigarette

ASH news release: Embargo: 00:01 27th March 2007
http://www.ash. 4q8eg0ft. htm

Shisha 200 times worse than a cigarette” say Middle East experts


left lung is normal, right lung shows cancer from smoking

left lung is normal, right lung shows cancer from smoking



Three leading experts from across the Middle East have warned that excluding “shisha bars” when England goes smokefree on July 1 could worsen the grave inequalities in health that already affect ethnic minorities.

Owners of shisha bars and cafes, which provide Arab style waterpipes to customers, are asking to be exempt from the law when it comes into force. However new research suggests that the waterpipes have three additional lethal risks over the risks of smoking cigarettes:

• Flavoured tobacco is smoked over coals and fumes from these fuels add new toxins to the already dangerous smoke.

• Shisha smokers inhale up to 200 times more smoke in a single shisha session that they would from a cigarette.

• Café owners have stress the social importance of their product but researchers say it is exactly that social aspect that results in high levels of highly dangerous secondhand smoke.

Far from discriminating against ethnic minorities, any exemption for indoor shisha smoking would only worsen health inequalities, say experts.Following the recent publication by the American Lung Association “An emerging Deadly Trend: Waterpipe Tobacco Use” (1) Mostafa Mohamed, Professor of Community Medicine in Cairo said, “Heat sources that are commonly used in Shisha pipes to burn the tobacco are likely to increase the health risks because when they burn they produce their own toxins. Shisha smokers and those around them are put at greater risk.”


Professor Mohamed is among the authors of a World Health Organisation report on shisha smoking published in 2005 (2). He was joined in his statement by co contributors from Syria and the Lebanon .

Dr Wasim Maziak, Associate Professor at the University of Memphis USA and Director of the Syrian Center of Tobacco Studies expects to publish new research very soon. The new study stresses that it is the very social nature of shisha smoking that makes the problem worse.

Our latest study makes clear that that clean air policies should include the waterpipe, as it can be responsible for the build up of toxic levels of indoor air pollutants similar to what is seen in cigarettes. The social nature of this tobacco use method makes such regulations more needed, but perhaps more difficult to implement as well. The public health community in the meantime must wake up to the hazardous nature of this emerging tobacco use method both to users and those exposed.”

A typical hour long shisha session involves inhaling 100 to 200 times the volume of smoke inhaled when smoking a cigarette and there is no proof that any adaptation can make waterpipes safer. Professor Maziak’s latest study provides the first evidence about the potential hazards of exposure to waterpipe-associate d secondhand smoke. Hazardous particles of various sizes can build up gradually during waterpipe use to reach dangerously high levels presenting a risk to non-smokers and particular risk to pregnant women.

Dr Alan Shidaheh of the American University in Beirut suggested that the problem was only recently being addressed by western scientists and that had lead to dangerous misconceptions.

One of the enduring legacies of colonialism is that many problems of public health which are more relevant to the global South have received scant scientific attention due to a lack of resources available there. Knowledge of the potentially detrimental health consequences of shisha smoke, first or second hand, is a good example. The historical lack of evidence has unfortunately allowed many shisha users to believe that the practice was safe, or at least safer than other forms of tobacco use. We have recently learned otherwise.”

Dr Shidaheh went on to stress that it was not only the shisha smoker who is at risk and warned that the tobacco industry will try to undermine the science, “Every recent study has found that shisha smoke contains large quantities of the chemicals that lead to heart disease, cancer, and addiction in cigarette smokers.”

In their report to the WHO the researchers stressed, “Waterpipes should be subjected to the same regulations as cigarettes and other tobacco products. Waterpipes and waterpipe tobacco should contain health warnings. Claims of harm reduction and safety should be prohibited.”

Notes and links:

[1] “An Emerging Deadly Trend: Waterpipe Tobacco Use”, American Lung Association February 2007, http://slati. alerts/Trend% 20Alert_Waterpip es.pdf

[2] “Waterpipe Tobacco Smoking: Health Effects, Research Needs and Recommended Actions by Regulators” WHO Study Group on Tobacco Product Regulation 2005 http://www.who. int/tobacco/ global_interacti on/tobreg/ Waterpipe% 20recommendation _Final.pdf

[3] A brief report written for ASH is available on www.smokefreeaction

[4] ASH Factsheet on waterpipes including photograph http://www.ash. factsheets/ html/fact28. html




19 Responses to The Danger of Smoking Shisha or Hooka

  1. justin webb says:

    hi, i believe some of your information, but some of it is in accurate, i would like to let you know that the way you are explaining this Herbal Molassas, is irrelevent to the fact that probably most of america has smoked shisha, including myself, i’m sorry but i stand my ground, it’s unhealthy, but mcdonalds in un healthy, a man ate mcdonalds for a month straight and had kidney failure, everything man made on this earth is most likely unhealthy.

    Your comment came to me as spam so I am replying within your comment space… Yes you are right even where I live it is known about fast foods people get high BP and cholesterol and illnesses etc and many of us are trying to go back to organic foods and more fresh raw foods and less meats… :)

  2. mohsen says:

    thank you, after reading this my whole family stopped smoking……………..
    i thank you very much

  3. It is really such a humble honor to think that a few words can hopefully help people tolive healthier lives… thank you for your comment and I hope that your efforts will continue life long…. health is something once lost is very hard to regain!!

  4. sunday .u .o says:

    it is wise for things like this to be publish on net bcos it help people to know more about the things they consume and its implecation towards their health. As for me i think i hav a change of heart towards hookah smokin.

  5. Nureddine says:

    According to an Arab expert who has pubished a detailed critique of the WHO report made by US experts (Eissenberg, Maziak and Shihadeh), “Hookah smoking is neither “haram” (illicit) nor “halal” (licit). Its use was not reported by the times of the Revelation. However scholars, by contrast with present antismoking researchers, have been tolerant over centuries”
    And he concludes that what is haram is bad science and false results. He notes the hadith of our Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) that we must seek science from the cradle to the grave. I think this is a good point that we must seek good science and reject bad science.

    The source is:

  6. However may I remake the point that anything which is harmful to the body falls under the makruh or haram based upon the aya in the holy Quran which directly states that we should not kill ourselves by our own hands; “…do not throw yourselves with your own hands into destruction. You shall be charitable; GOD loves the charitable.” (Glorious Quran 2:195) As it is well known that smoking causes many kinds of ills, it falls under this aya. And Allah swt knows best, fi amanillah, Sakina

  7. shisha says:

    Thanks for the great article on the hazards of shisha smoking, but what about the new herbal shisha molasses which is free of tobacco. Is that just as dangerous to our health?

  8. Peter says:

    Thanks for this information. Many don’t know this. Keep things like these posted. :)

  9. I stopped smoking last week and it is really beginning to hit me right now. My better half tells me I won’t be able to get it done however I am so confident about it I will be successful. recently I started having aches in my lower stomach and I kinda want a puff. I will not give into the craving since I’m stopping smoking for my youngsters. I am grateful to have the electric cigarettes. It’s been very useful to me.

  10. Herbal Smoke says:

    Thanks for the info I appriciate your post. I really like the look of your website great job!

  11. mustapha umar baba says:

    thank u 4 saving me. am gona make sure i communicate this to others.

  12. Ahmed says:

    thaks for your information. Aftr going through this article, I decided to give up shesha smoking .

  13. hasnain says:

    thanks!i have promissed that i will stop smoking after reading this package.

  14. Rowan says:

    Right shisha is not bad for you. For 1 it will not give u cancer because nicatine will not, and the coals on top will burn nearly all of the nicatine away. It duz not matter how much smoke u inhale what matters is what poisions u are inhaling. in a cigarett there are over 400 but in shisha there are 4. You cant even get lung cancer from it either because with a cigarett u have nothing to cool the smoke down but in shisha u hav the cold water. I am not telling people to smoke shisha but wat i am trying to say that it is not as bad for u as cigarets.

  15. Thank you for your comment and opinion however I feel you are just making an excuse to enjoy a social custom which is actually a growing health threat throughout the world. Also your information is not correct.. “Cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, including 43 known cancer-causing (carcinogenic) compounds and 400 other toxins. These include nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide, as well as formaldehyde, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, arsenic, and DDT.” ( also,, smoking in the after effect of burned coal damages your lungs as well…. dont you remember how many miners had lung illnesses from working with it? And here we are burning it!! Secondly, alot of those coals contain petrol flaminants to increase the spread with which it can start and burn. Maybe you are saying its not as bad as cigarettes however most people smoke for long periods of time and the habit becomes highly addictive. I think the few articles I have posted actually do a very good job of proving this point.

  16. ShaKa says:

    Thank you for your post on the dangers of smoking shisha. However, I note that the alleged harms are based on a report by the WHO. I would be very sceptical of any report coming out of the WHO, considering what happened regarding the recent swineflu epidemic. Where did the number 200 come from, what it just plucked from the air? Is it really exactly 200 times by chance?

    I agree that anything harmful is makruh,however, presenting information without proof would be tantamount to lying. I would realy be interested to know of the dangers with hard facts and not just based on reports. (By the way I am not a smoker of any form and so I have no inclinations to shisha etc).

    I would direct you to the following link:

    to see a different viewpoint.

    Let me know what you make of it.

  17. I appreciate your points and yes I also often question statements made by WHO depending upon its support. Without any documentation, common sense tells us that any kind of smoking is not good for our health and it is a very social activity which makes it very difficult to stop.

  18. Обучающие видеокурсы авторов Рунета says:

    That is really fascinating, You’re an overly skilled blogger. I’ve joined your feed and sit up for in search of extra of your wonderful post. Also, I’ve shared your website in my social networks

  19. eliquid art says:

    Good post. I learn something new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon on a daily basis. It’s always useful to read articles from other authors and practice something from their web sites.

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