Spending one hour smoking flavoured tobacco through a shisha pipe can be the same as inhaling the smoke of 100 cigarettes, a charity has warned. 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. A freedom of information request submitted by BHF to Glasgow City Council showed that there has been an increase in shisha bars trading in Scotland’s largest city in the past five years.
Glasgow now has seven shisha bars compared to none in 2007.
The charity said shisha smoking is linked to the same kinds of diseases as cigarette smoking, including heart disease, cancer, respiratory disease and problems during pregnancy.
However, only half of adults polled in Scotland (53%) knew they could contain tobacco and one in six (17%) thought there were no health risks from using shisha. A total of 15% thought it was less harmful than smoking cigarettes. It also claimed shishas could provide a new gateway for people to start smoking and become addicted to tobacco.
Andy Carver, prevention and care adviser at BHF Scotland, 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.
“It’s linked to the same serious and life-threatening diseases as cigarettes and there are added risks because you often smoke it for far longer than you would a cigarette, and you’re also exposed to toxins from the wood or charcoal used to burn the tobacco.