There are enough global evidence and warnings over the risks of shisha smoking, and very clear that shisha products are being pushed very hard to children, youths and adolescents. This creates an entirely avoidable risk of a new generation that will be addicted to nicotine.
Shisha smoking, also called hookah, narghile, waterpipe, or hubble bubble smoking is a way of smoking tobacco, normally mixed with fruit or molasses sugar, through a bowl and hose or tube.
Shisha pipes use tobacco sweetened with fruit or molasses sugar, which makes the smoke more aromatic than cigarette smoke. Flavourings include apple, plum, coconut, mango, mint, strawberry and cola. Wood, coal, or charcoal is burned in the shisha pipe to heat the tobacco and create the smoke as the fruit syrup or sugar makes the tobacco damp.
When you smoke shisha, you and anyone sitting near you are breathing in smoke which releases toxins including carbon monoxide and heavy metals reducing your body’s ability to carry oxygen around in your blood. Shisha tobacco contains cigarette tobacco, so like cigarettes it contains nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide and heavy metals, such as arsenic and lead. As a result, shisha smokers are at risk of the same kinds of diseases as cigarette smokers, such as heart disease, cancer, respiratory disease and problems during pregnancy.
People smoke shisha for much longer periods of time than they smoke a cigarette, and in one puff of shisha you inhale the same amount of smoke as you’d get from smoking a whole cigarette. The average shisha-smoking session lasts an hour and research has shown that in this time you can inhale the same amount of smoke as from more than 100 cigarettes. Some people mistakenly think that shisha smoking is not addictive because the water used in the pipe can absorb nicotine. In reality, because only some of the nicotine is absorbed by the water, shisha smokers are still exposed to enough nicotine to cause an addiction.
The current Shisha use among young population in Zambia is worrisome. According to Ministry of Health over 7,000 people die each year due to tobacco caused diseases including cancers, heart attacks, Lung diseases and many more Non-Communicable Diseases. And this is enough evidence for the Law Makers to support and ban all forms of tobacco use in Zambia. Tobacco use if not properly handled will kill many young people at an early age.
We urge the Ministry of Health to pull up its socks and increase health promotions and awareness programs in communities, and also in collaboration with line Ministries to earnestly speed up the Tobacco and Nicotine Products Control Bill process which has been dormant for almost 10 years, to serve the population and especially the young generation who are a target to tobacco industry as their future customers.
We also urge the Law makers to support tobacco control in many forums to protect its citizens as tobacco is a deadly product which should not be entertained at all cost.
Issued By Brenda Chitindi
Tobacco – Free Association of Zambia