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Saturday March 24, 2007

What is Shisha?


SOME say it originated in Turkey over 500 years ago while others claim it came from Syria and India.  

In today’s context, Shisha refers to the flavoured tobacco used in the smoking process using a hookah, also commonly known as ‘hubble bubble’ and ‘narghile’. 

The tobacco is soaked in fruits shavings such as apples, grapes and strawberries.  

A hookah consists of a base, pipe, bowl and hose or a mouthpiece.  

Tobacco is placed in the bowl, which is at the top of the pipe structure.  

An aluminium foil covers the bowl and small charcoal pieces are then placed on the foil, which is punctured using a pin to gently heat the tobacco. 

When smoked using the hose, smooth, sweet-smelling vapour is filtered through the base containing water.  

It also comes in floral flavours such as coconut, vanilla and rose.  

 

Is Shisha harmful?

While many may argue that Shisha smoking is not harmful, medical experts say otherwise.  

Kuala Lumpur health department deputy head Dr Sellehudin Abu Bakar said Shisha was tobacco mixed with molasses and fruit flavours and tobacco product in any form contained nicotine.  

He said all tobacco products were equally dangerous as it contained more than 3,500 chemicals of which 200 were toxic and 43 were carcinogenic.  

“It is difficult to compare which product is more dangerous.  

“It depends on several factors such as frequency of use, how deep the inhalation or if other ingredients are added besides tobacco itself,” said Dr Sellehudin.  

He added that Shisha smoking was also addictive as it contained nicotine from tobacco smoke. 

“Shisha smoking can lead to physical addiction and can also create psychological and habitual dependence to the user.  

“The water filter is a gimmick. Most of the toxic chemicals and nicotine are not water-soluble. Hence, they pass through the filter and is inhaled by a smoker, although other irritant substances, which are water-soluble, will get filtered.”  

Meanwhile Reuters reported last week that the World Health Organisation (WHO) had announced that a single session of smoking Shisha yields a nicotine intake equivalent to more than one pack of cigarettes.  

It is also reported that Shisha smoke retained all the carcinogens of cigarette smoke while adding more carbon monoxide and a separate set of carcinogens from the use of burning coals to keep the nicotine flowing, coupled with the risk of infection with tuberculosis or hepatitis from shared mouthpieces.  

Related Story:
Middle Eastern smoking habit catching hold among city’s young
 

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