What is really serious about the phenomenon is that most shisha smokers wrongfully take to the hubble-bubble thinking that it poses only “light” health risks compared to the serious health-related complications of cigarette smoking.
Medical experts have warned that shisha has a more perilous impact on health compared to cigarette smoking. They say most shisha smokers have a misconception based on a wrongful and unscientific notion that tobacco used in shisha is herbal and does not affect body organs.
It is to be noted that in their efforts to combat smoking, the health ministers of the GCC states have proposed a hike in the fees of commercial license issued for cafes and restaurants serving shisha in the member countries.
Medical experts have also cautioned that some of the hazards of smoking shisha are lung cancer and chronic obstructive lung disease, peripheral vascular disease, cardiovascular disease, coronary artery disease, hypertension, throat cancer and mouth cancer.
Most people misleadingly believe shisha does not contain tobacco and that when they smoke they inhale herbal products. The added flavors make them feel they are smoking herbs, while they are actually taking in tobacco and are likely to become addicted to nicotine. Shisha smokers should realize that it is far more dangerous than cigarette smoking, because the amount of nicotine in shisha cannot be measured due to packing differences.
Moreover, while smoking hubble-bubble, the aluminum foil, which is usually of poor quality, reacts with the burning charcoal and produces aluminum fumes that are carcinogenic or, in other words, cause cancer. The amount of carbon dioxide inhaled through shisha is very high compared to cigarette smoking, depending on the packed ingredients.
Shisha is equal to smoking cigarettes, but a 60-minute shisha session produces 100 to 200 times more smoke than one cigarette. Shisha smokers should also be aware of the fact that when smoke goes through water, humidity in smoke increases, which then tends to stay for a longer time in the lungs. Some germs, mainly bacteria that cause tuberculosis, live in the shisha pipe.
According to recent studies, the pipe could act as a good medium for conveying bacteria causing infectious diseases like hepatitis A that can be easily transmitted when the shisha pipe is used by multiple smokers.
According to the WHO, analyses have reached to the point that shisha is far more dangerous than smoking cigarettes or pipe smoking. One is getting more smoke from the shisha than when smoking a cigarette stick. Inhaling the smoke from the hubble-bubble is like inhaling toxic gases and compounds as well as some heavy metals, thus leading to pulmonary and cardiac problems. The water in the pipe does not filter the smoke, although it does absorb nicotine.
The smoke from the tobacco is cooled as it passes through a water-filled glass bowl and then inhaled through a flexible tube. The water in the bowl acts as a barrier for the most harmful substance in tobacco: Tar. Tar includes all of the mutagenic and carcinogenic agents in tobacco smoke, like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), which in cigarettes is made through the process of epoxidation and which causes the reaction in tobacco that aids the creation of the tar and the carrying of nicotine. This does not occur in shisha pipes, as the process is prevented in water due to saturation of the hydrocarbons in their gaseous state.
Although this is a positive, there are negatives to shisha pipe smoking as the nicotine, though in lesser amounts, is still carried through the water or liquid at the base of the pipe.
The link between smoking and lung cancer is clear. Ninety percent of lung cancer cases are due to smoking. If no one smoked, lung cancer would be a rare diagnosis — only 0.5 percent of people who have never touched a cigarette develop lung cancer. One in ten moderate smokers and almost one in five heavy smokers (more than 15 cigarettes a day) will die of lung cancer.
The more cigarettes you smoke a day and the longer you have smoked, the higher your risk of lung cancer. Similarly, the risk rises the deeper you inhale and the earlier in life you started smoking. Other types of cancer that are more common in smokers are bladder cancer, cancer of the esophagus, of the kidneys, of the pancreas, and cervical cancer.
In smokers, the rate of decline in lung function can be three times the usual rate. As lung function declines, breathlessness begins. As the condition progresses, severe breathing problems can require hospital care. The final stage is death from slow and progressive breathlessness.
Smoking worsens asthma and counteracts asthma medication by worsening the inflammation of the airways that the medicine tries to ease.
There are many health-related reasons to give up cigarettes — not just for smokers, but to protect those around you. Babies born to mothers who smoke during pregnancy are twice as likely to be born prematurely and with a low birth weight.
Passive smoking, the “side-stream” smoke that comes off a cigarette between puffs, carries a higher risk than directly inhaled smoke. Children who grow up in a home where one or both parents smoke have twice the risk of getting asthma and asthmatic bronchitis.
They also have a higher risk of developing allergies. Infants under two years old are more prone to severe respiratory infections and sudden infant death syndrome. For adults, passive smoking seems to increase the risk of lung cancer, but the evidence for an increased risk of heart disease is not yet conclusive.