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8 deadly secrets about shisha smoking

Dr. Akin-Onitolo A.



Commonly called shisha, hookah, hubble bubble or waterpipe, shisha smoking is a trend that is becoming popular especially among young people. Despite being seemingly harmless, there are several points you should consider before drawing on that mouthpiece.

1. Smoking tobacco as cigarettes or in a waterpipe has potential health risks to you and others around you exposed to the smoke. The principle of first-hand, second-hand and third-hand smoking apply.

2. You are likely to smoke with a waterpipe for roughly an hour in which time you would inhale 100-200 times more smoke than from a single cigarette.

3. The tobacco used for waterpipe smoking is usually flavoured, for example, with mint, cappuccino. This makes the smoke more appealing to people who would otherwise not use tobacco.

4. The smoke passes through water in the base of the waterpipe but it still contains many harmful substances like tar which are also present in cigarettes and can cause cancers in the mouth, throat, lungs.

5. Substances like charcoal are used to burn the tobacco at the top of the waterpipe and these also release their own toxic chemicals like carbon monoxide which like generator smoke, takes up the position of oxygen in red blood cells leading to organ damage. They also release metals and chemicals that cause cancers in the body.

6. Diseases like tuberculosis, herpes and hepatitis can be spread when you share the mouthpiece with others as is commonly done.

7. Exposure to tobacco smoke puts pregnant women and their unborn babies at risk of abnormalities and pregnancy problems.

8. Non-smokers are also at risk of the harmful effects of tobacco smoking and toxic chemicals from the fuel sources.

Smoking shisha is NOT a safe alternative to cigarettes and there is no proof that any device or accessory can make it safer. So I hope you decide to put the hose away and spare your friends and loved ones the harmful effects. Everyone needs to know that the appealing flavour and softer taste of shisha does not reduce the effects of tobacco.

Don’t hesitate to SHARE your opinions, experiences and questions.

P.S.: The person smoking is the first-hand smoker, the one present but not smoking is the second-hand smoker, and the person exposed to an area where smoking has recently taken place, for example, a cleaner, is the third-hand smoker.

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Dr. Akin-onitolo A. is a graduate of the University of Lagos whose mission is to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs) using health promotion and improved health literacy. She is an MDCN (Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria) certified doctor who had her elective at King's College London. Hugely interested in travel, meeting people and generally being creative, reading and writing fiction are a few hobbies you could find her engaged in during her spare time. Catch up with her on Twitter @Akinonitolo and Instagram @t_onitolo