The dangers of smoking Shisha are being highlighted in a new public health campaign in Liverpool.
Shisha – also called hookah, narghile, waterpipe, or hubble bubble smoking – is a way of smoking tobacco, sometimes mixed with fruit or molasses sugar, through a bowl and hose or tube.
The tube ends in a mouthpiece from which the smoker inhales the smoke deep into their lungs – and studies show an hour’s smoking is the equivalent of having between 100-200 cigarettes.
Shisha smoking is traditionally used by people from Middle Eastern or Asian community groups, but is becoming increasingly popular in cities such as Liverpool, particularly among young people aged 18-25.
Now, public health officials are to raise awareness of the harmful health effects by targeting students during the opening weeks of the new higher education academic year, including visiting fresher’s fair, community events and college open days to spread the word.
Director of Public Health, Dr Sandra Davies, said: “We have had huge success in reducing the smoking rate in Liverpool, which has virtually halved over the last decade, meaning long term health benefits to many thousands of people.
“However, we risk some of this great work being undone as a result of people smoking Shisha, which has the potential to be far more harmful due to the intensity of deep inhalation of chemicals and poisons.
“There is some evidence that because Shisha is flavoured, people don’t realise how harmful it is and that it is equivalent to them smoking a huge number of cigarettes in one go.”
There are around a dozen Shisha cafes in the city, and people who use some of them are at risk of being issued with a £50 fixed penalty notice because it is classed as smoking indoors.
During the campaign, enforcement officials from the city council will be visiting premises and taking action against any that allow people to smoke inside.
Councillor Paul Brant, Cabinet member for adult health, said: “Smoking Shisha indoors not only harms you but also those around you as they inhale the second hand smoke.
“Smoking in workplaces such as cafes was barred because of the health risks that it posed, and we now need to do the same and enforce the law at Shisha cafes as it is putting staff and other customers at risk of harm.”
Smoking increases the chances of coronary heart disease and oral, lung and stomach cancer.
People who want to stop smoking can get support from Smokefree Liverpool on 0800 061 4212, visiting https://www.smokefreeliverpool.co.uk/ or by texting QUIT to 66777.