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Traditional Hookah Bans Come Into Force In The UK – Is It The Right Thing To Do?

This Is A Practice Rooted In History And Tradition

In the sixteenth century, hookah smoking first began in the Middle East and in countries such as Pakistan and India where coal-heated water pipes were used to smoke herbs or tobacco. Since then the practice has greatly increased in popularity. Today, hookah lounges–where smokers gather to communally enjoy the feel-good effects of shisha–can be found across the globe.

  • However, just because it is a popular practice does not mean it is a safe one and this has led many to talk of Hookah Bans.

Hookah Bans In UK

Many Don’t Know About The Health Concerns Associated With Shisha

It is common knowledge that cigarettes pose great risks to human health, but the general public seems less informed when it comes to shisha. Many mistakenly think of hookah smoking as a healthier alternative to cigarette smoking because they do not know enough about how a hookah water pipe can affect personal health. While there are numerous public service announcements and after-school programs, which aim to inform people about the dangers of smoking cigarettes, there are few if any that aim to inform about smoking shisha.

  • A pleasant aroma and fruity flavor do well to disguise the risks involved, in the eyes of many hookah users, especially teens.
  • Some seek comfort in the fact that the shisha smoke appears to be filtered through water. However, this feature of water pipes is intended to cool the smoke, rather than to purify it.

Increased Knowledge Of The Hazards Of Hookahs Leads To UK Hookah Bans Indoors

As hookah smoking garners more and more attention, more and more people are wondering how it affects human health. Recent studies have found that hookah users tend to absorb more dangerous chemicals than cigarette users, primarily because the smoke from burned tobacco blends with the smoke from burned coal, which emits cancer-causing toxins. Studies have also found that because of the social aspect to hookah smoking, smokers will puff for longer on a hookah than on a cigarette. While a hookah user may inhale 200 puffs in a smoking binge, the average cigarette allows only 20 puffs.

  • To protect the public from the hazards of hookahs, certain governments are now instating bans on indoor shisha use. The province of Alberta in Canada was one of the first.

Is A Ban Really The Best Solution?

Is banning an unhealthy activity really the only way to keep the public from participating in it? It seems like governments could instead invest in educational programs, which will give the general public all of the facts regarding the effects of hookah on personal health. If the population is informed, then they should be able make their own life decisions. People go to hookah lounges knowing that they will be ingesting a lot of smoke. If they fully understand the risks associated with that smoke and are still willing to partake, then should they not have that right, for better or worse?

  • There will always be people who want to smoke shisha indoors.
  • Determined people will find a way to do what they really want to do, even if they know it is unhealthy.
    • During the Prohibition Era in the United States, for example, drinking did not cease. Rather it was pushed underground, away from the jurisdiction of the law. As a result, the practices became even more dangerous.
    • Knowledge leads to freedom. Governments should not aim to limit the activities of the people it hopes to protect, but rather educate them on why certain activities should be avoided, and trust that they have enough sense to heed the warning.

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