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5 Things You Never Knew About Shisha

Shisha Smoking & Your HealthThe smoking of Mu’assel (Arabic for ‘honeyed’) or Shisha, is considered a social custom for relaxation and enjoyment, particularly in the Arab world.  The origins of Shisha are disputed; the three countries that are accredited enough to be in the dispute are Turkey, Persia and India.  Smoking Shisha, also called Hookah, for the name of the water pipe that is used to smoke it in, or going to a Shisha lounge is becoming more popular.  With all the popularity, it is wise to learn a little bit about the stuff; both for better and for worse!  Here are 5 things you never knew about Shisha:


There are over 250 different kinds of Hookah, or Shisha flavours.  This number is growing!  Most flavours are fruit-based mixes, and popular ones include apple, lemon, grape, strawberry, cherry, guava, lemon-lime, and mint.  There are unique kinds as well – like blueberry muffin flavoured, energy-drink flavoured, or even ‘white gummy-bear flavoured’! 


Many people believe that Shisha is not as bad for you.  This has to do with the process of the smoke passing through a water chamber in the hookah first, before you inhale it.  Going through the water chamber does not filter out the chemicals in the tobacco however.  The smoke may have half the nicotine of cigarette smoke per puffs, but there is about 20x the carbon monoxide exposure.  CO can cause stroke, heart attack, and sudden death. In addition the time someone takes smoking hookah is usually in excess of 1 hour so overall they may take in much more nicotine.


Because the inhalations from the hookah are deeper and slower, you inhale more smoke each time – somewhere between 150 mL to 500 mL with each hit.  Because of the charcoal or wood cinder combustion products in the water pipe, there are more carcinogens and agents linked to heart-disease in the Shisha smoke.  Some of these are arsenic, cobalt, chromium and lead.  It is certainly possible to get addicted to hookah smoke, just like cigarette smoke.


Sharing mouthpieces on the hookah contributes to an increased risk of contracting a communicable disease.  Herpes is one that is on the radar, and both tuberculosis and meningitis are possible.  Not only that, but smoking Shisha may lead to infertility and impotence!


Some of the studies done by researchers say that the volume of smoke inhaled by an hour-long “Sesh” or Shisha smoking session, is equivalent to smoking between 100-200 cigarettes.  This is stated by the World Health Organization.  Studies done at the Royal University of Saudi Arabia show Shisha smoke is 30x LESS concentrated in chemicals than cigarettes.  Also, where there have been over 5000 chemicals identified in cigarette smoke, there have only been 142 identified in Shisha smoke.  The chairman of the Niche Tobacco Advisory Group for North England, Dr. Khalid Anis, states that a regular Shisha smoker “can expect to be at risk to the similar health problems that cigarette smokers face, whether that’s respiratory, heart disease or cancer”.