There’s been a lot of news lately talking about a World Health Organisation report that apparently stated that one shisha session was the same as inhaling 100 cigarettes. Of course the mainstream media love to pick up on a story like this and papers like the Daily Mail and The Sun (not exactly known for their journalistic integrity) ran full page spreads warning about the dangers and proclaiming that hookah pipe smokers were now 200-a-day addicts heading for an early grave.
However, if you examine the WHO report in detail, you find that it doesn’t actually state this at all. What the report states is that during a session you may inhale the same smoke as 100 cigarettes. Sounds very similar, but in fact it’s very different.
We know that when a smoker takes a puff on a cigarette they are taking all the chemicals, including nicotine directly into their mouth straight through the filter (assuming they’re using them). This means a cigarette is a particularly intense way of delivering the smoke directly to the mouth. A hookah pipe on the other hand is completely different. The smoke is filtered through water which filters more of the particulates and chemicals but there’s another difference – how it’s smoked.
Cigarettes are an anti-social pastime with most people being ejected out of a social gathering in order to get their hit, but shisha is completely the opposite with many people getting together to smoke from one pipe. In the summer, people will have a party, light a hookah and then share the experience around a whole group of people (using their own mouth tips, of course!) and therefore only taking in a little of the smoke while enjoying the whole ambience.
Don’t get me wrong, smoking anything can be dangerous, but scare stories about it won’t help anyone and as we believe fully in freedom of choice, we feel it is up to everyone to both enjoy what they’re doing and also be fully aware of the facts.
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