Shisha refers to the flavoured tobacco used in the smoking process using a hookah, also commonly known as ‘hubble bubble’ and ‘narghile’. It is believed to have originated in Turkey over 500 years ago while others claim it came from Syria and India.
The tobacco is soaked in fruits shavings such as apples, grapes and strawberries. A hookah consists of a base, pipe, bowl and hose or a mouthpiece. Tobacco is placed in the bowl, which is at the top of the pipe structure. An aluminium foil covers the bowl and small charcoal pieces are then placed on the foil, which is punctured using a pin to gently heat the tobacco. When smoked using the hose, smooth, sweet-smelling vapour is filtered through the base containing water. It also comes in floral flavours such as coconut, vanilla and rose.
Is Shisha harmful? While many may argue that Shisha smoking is not harmful, medical experts say otherwise as tobacco product in any form contains nicotine and nicotine is addictive. Tobacco products are dangerous as it contains chemicals which are toxic and carcinogenic.
The common belief is that smoke is filtered by the water when in actual fact, nicotine is not water-soluble. The water filter is a gimmick hence the smoke is inhaled by a smoker.
Reuters reported last week that the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced that a single session of smoking Shisha yields a nicotine intake equivalent to more than one pack of cigarettes.
It is also reported that Shisha smoke retained all the carcinogens of cigarette smoke while adding more carbon monoxide and a separate set of carcinogens from the use of burning coals to keep the nicotine flowing, coupled with the risk of infection with tuberculosis or hepatitis from shared mouthpieces.