Medical experts have warned that water-pipes are more harmful than cigarettes.
The announcement was made at the launch of the fifth edition of ‘The Tobacco Atlas’, which was held at the World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Abu Dhabi recently. ‘The Tobacco Atlas’ is a book, which contains details of the tobacco epidemic in the world including the impact of tobacco on health, poverty, environment and more.
Edouard Tursan d’Espaignet, tobacco expert at the World Health Organization (WHO), said, “A single puff from a water pipe is nearly equal to the volume of smoke inhaled from an entire cigarette. One session of shisha (water pipe) can be equal to smoking 20 to 30 cigarettes in one go, which can be very dangerous.”
According to the experts, water pipe, variously known as a hubbly-bubbly, hookah, shisha or nargileh, has become a major worry for anti-tobacco campaigners as its is popularized across university campuses and overlooked by regulators. They also added that popularity of the smoking device has recently increased in the United States and Europe.
Hookah smoking is getting popular in younger people between 18 and 24 years, both male and females. Many people believe that water pipe smoking is less harmful than cigarettes. However, smoking hookah can be even more dangerous than smoking cigarettes.
Apart from the contents of the hookah, the smoke from charcoal used to heat the tobacco contains toxins. Apart from lung cancer, experts suggest that hookah can also cause oral, oesophageal, gastric, and urinary bladder cancer, as well as chronic bronchitis, cardiovascular disease, stroke as well as other illnesses.
Ghazi Zaatari, chairman of pathology and laboratory medicine at the American University of Beirut, said, “Water pipes fall into a less heavily or un-regulated group of tobacco products in most countries. There has been a gap for a while and now hopefully, with this global effort, they (tobacco regulators) are coming back to emphasize the importance of including the water pipe in all these policies and regulations on tobacco.”