Up in smoke: the truth about shisha pipe smoking

A study published in BMC Public Health found that smoke from shisha contains heavier metals than previously thought. In this guest blog, Dr Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director at British Heart Foundation tells us that there is no safe way to smoke.

Are we in sight of a smoke-free Britain?

It’s been sixty years since Richard Doll’s definitive study proving the link between smoking and lung cancer. Since then, there has been a steady decline in the number of smokers, and less than 19% of the UK population currently smoke. However, that is still nearly 10 million adult smokers and half of those people will die of a smoking related disease.

There’s no safe way to smoke

There is no safe way to smoke tobacco and people should not be fooled by marketing techniques such as ‘light cigarettes’ or ‘low tar tobacco’ which remain just as harmful. This also applies to the growing numbers of people who are using alternative methods of smoking tobacco, such as Shisha smoking.

Shisha smoking is traditionally used by people from Middle Eastern or Asian community groups but is becoming increasingly popular among all groups in cities around the UK.

The British Heart Foundation estimates that because Shisha is smoked in a prolonged way rather than a series of cigarettes, one evening of smoking Shisha can be the equivalent of smoking a hundred cigarettes in one session.

One evening of smoking Shisha can be the equivalent of smoking a hundred cigarettes in one session.

Smoking Shisha is clearly going to increase people’s risk of problems, including cardiovascular disease, and people should not be fooled by the belief that the water that the smoke bubbles through somehow removes the toxins.

The study published in BMC Public Health shows that looking at the heavy metals that are released when tobacco is smoked, only 3% of a range of heavy metals are removed from the inhaled smoke by the water.

It is also the case that the flavored tobaccos, such as fruit flavors, used in Shisha smoking can create the misleading impression of a healthy tobacco, but this is far from the case.

What can you do if you want to stop smoking?

There are plenty of reasons why one should be proud to be a quitter, not only for your health, but also for your family and friends. Since the smoking ban was introduced, smoking is increasingly becoming the antisocial choice and can also be a source of strain on your relationships.

Setting a date to quit has been proven to be one of the most effective techniques to make sure that your quit attempt is successful. Previous studies have shown that around two thirds of smokers want to quit.

No Smoking Day 2015 is held on 11 March and nearly a million of the estimated 10 million smokers in the UK, are estimated to make a quit attempt on that day.

Whether it’s cigarettes or shisha, smoking still remains the number one cause of preventable death in the UK. If you use shisha and want to quit, then take a look at the No Smoking Day website.

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