In the awakening Arewa of today, we adopt the lifestyle of the aliens and welcome whatever is brought in the name of civilization especially when it comes to the ‘baku-waye-ba‘ tag. That’s what gave rise to the number of Shisha cafés and lounges that fill our neighborhoods with their characteristic strawberry scents in most cities of Northern Nigeria.
Shisha smoking has now become common and popular especially among youth. Yeah, the flavors smell nice, but it gives quarter a joy and takes half a life, if not whole. But then how exactly does Shisha smoking has effects on the body?
Before I answer that, let’s take a look at how a shisha pot works.
The Shisha Device and How it Works
Shisha, also called Waterpipe or Hookah is a device used to smoke flavored tobacco that produces scented smoke depending on the flavoring used. The smoke passes through water before it gets to the smoker. How?
The device consists of a tobacco bowl, which gets covered by a perforated foil paper upon which burning coal or charcoal should be placed. Under the tobacco bowl is a pipe which brings smoke to the water bowl below, the smoke passes through the water then into the smoking hose which conveys the ‘vaporized’ smoke to the smoker’s mouth.
Why Do Some People Believe that Shisha is Safe?
1. The Sweet Flavor
Shisha flavors are found in form of the most soothing scents of fruits like strawberry, apple, lemon; spices like ginger, mint, and in some cases vanilla or chocolates. The fact that the smoke from shisha doesn’t smell like traditional tobacco gives it the credit to pass as ‘safe’ and socially acceptable. It’s no longer shocking to meet a family using it in the parlor with no shame recorded on faces.
Most people don’t even know it contains tobacco because the tobacco smell is masked by the stronger familiar flavoring.
2. The Water Factor
Most shisha smokers believe that the smoke gets purified when it passed through the water, it is cooled and vapored hence could not harm the smoker. Wow! This sounds logically okay but medically trash. Research has proved that the passage of the smoke through the water does not reduce any of its damaging potentials to the smoker.
3. Absence of Tobacco
Some people think that shisha is less harmful than cigarettes or it doesn’t contains tobacco. That is a myth! The two have the same basic constituent. You guessed it right, tobacco.
Why Shisha is Worse Than Cigarettes
Researches have proven that shisha is more harmful and has more effect on the body than cigarettes, considering the amount of smoke and time of smoking sessions.
1. Shisha Takes Longer Time
While tobacco smoking takes about 5 minutes, a single shisha session extends to about an hour owing to it’s the sweet smell and cool smoke.
2. Shisha Produces More Smoke
The diameter of a cigarette is much smaller than that of the shisha pipe, this enables the smoker to have just enough smoke in a puff to fill his air cavities. These two factors are what renders a single session of shisha harmful, according to a research conducted by the World Health Organization. That is equivalent to 100 cigarettes. That’s about 5 packs!
Effects of Shisha Smoking
The smoke from the burnt smoke after passing through the water was found to contain about 80 harmful chemicals. Shisha smoking has the following harmful effects on the body.
1. Heart Conditions, Hypertension, and Stroke
The smoke from shisha contains toxic chemicals that harden and block arteries (pipes through which blood passes.) This makes it harder for the heart to pump blood adequately resulting in more forceful pumping and accompanied high blood pressure (hypertension) and heart attack or stroke in uncontrolled cases. This stroke might eventually leads to paralysis. Too bad huh?
2. Spread of Infectious Diseases
Being smoked mostly in groups, people share the same mouthpiece of the shisha pipe. This increases the risk of contracting diseases like tuberculosis, hepatitis, glandular fever, and oral herpes. One might opt for a personal mouthpiece while using public shisha you might say. Alas! Even if the mouthpiece is changed, the humid nature of the hose favors the growth of infections which could still reach the smoker through the ‘private’ mouthpiece.
3. Lung diseases
The toxic smoke causes inflammation of the lung airways (bronchitis), accumulation of air in the lung tissues (emphysema), and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) which might pose lifelong respiratory complications to the smoker if they don’t ‘summarize’ his stay on earth.
Even after passing through the water, the smoke contains carcinogens that are known to cause oral, throat, lungs, and bladder cancers. Even if you have the millions of Naira needed to care for cancer, do we have enough doctors and facilities in the country? Remember, cancer is the second leading cause of death globally.
5. Premature Skin Aging
When the carbon monoxide in the smoke mixes with the blood, it reduces the quantity of oxygen in circulation, this prevents the skin from getting enough oxygen causing cell damage and premature aging.
Another myth that keeps echoing is ‘shisha is not addictive’. Shisha is addictive Malam!
Being made of the same origin as cigarettes, shisha contains nicotine which is the addictive substance of tobacco. This makes smokers habitual and exposed to all dangers of substance addiction, it puts them at risk when the shisha is not within reach.
Not to make the article longer, I hope you are now convinced that shisha is as deadly as -and if smoked habitually deadlier than- cigarettes.
Want to quit? Read my article on How to break an addiction or consult a therapist for nicotine addiction treatment and guidance.
Cut the smoke, live long!