Originating from India and Persia, the hookah is a water pipe which allows smoking a preparation of tobacco flavoured with fruit. The smoke is drawn through a hose and passes through a vessel filled with water. The water cools the smoke and makes it very soft. Shisha (which refers specifically to Egyptian hookahs) smoking is primarily a source of relaxation and fun that encourages human contact. Some hookahs, or narghiles, are real works of art and may have a purely decorative function.
The hookah is composed of several parts: the chimney, the bowl, the shell, the submerged pipe and the main inhalation pipe. The hookah may also have a shelf located between the chimney and the upper bowl.
The bowl contains a mixture of tobacco, molasses and fruit essences sometimes called tabamel and coal, which is placed on top. The bowl is raised to the top of the chimney. The body of the hookah is filled with water to half its height, and rose water or other additives to give taste can be added. The submerged pipe is then placed in the reservoir, and connected to the chimney and the pipe. The smoke passes through water and is filtered into the chimney before reaching the smoker’s mouth, whom then inhales through the hose provided. The water is changed regularly to remove residue.
The tabamel used in the hookah is specially designed for this purpose: it has the appearance of a wet paste composed of approximately 30% of tobacco, which is fermented with approximately 70% of mu’assel, honey and different pulped fruits, which are intended to give the smoke flavour and a fruity aroma. There are various varieties of tabamel: from apple to cherry, mint, and even cappuccino or cola. The tabamel is heated in the furnace at a temperature of about 450°C.
The shells are of various shapes and can be metal, crystal, glass, copper or pot. Some are enhanced with gold or silver parts. The metal parts of the hookah are usually finely chiselled. Some pipes are also decorated. Finally, the plateau of the hookah is also richly decorated (with beads, as in Syria) and chased. Forms of hookahs are very diverse and the decorations (which range from the “tourists” to the more refined) reflect the influences of the region where they are made.
Shisha is as harmful as cigarettes and the statistics of the CO levels in Shisha proves this – CO Levels (parts per million) – Carbon onoxide
– Normal level: 3(ppm)
– Light Smoker: 10 – 20 (ppm)
– Heavy Smoker: 30 – 40 (ppm)
– Faulty boiler/fire levels: (upwards of) 100 (ppm)
– Severe Syptoms: 100 (ppm)
– Lethal Levels: More than 300 (ppm)
Those with 30 – 40 (ppm) studies show it affects 8 – 12% of their blood, Dr Hilary Wareing, director of the Tobacco Control Collaborating Centre said herself that ”Our mouths opened at the level of harm – none of the tests we did showed anything other than shisha is hazardous to health.”
The really shocking fact is that everyone has a misconception of Shisha thinking that it is not as harmful as smoking when in fact it is just as bad, however, there is a more disturbing problem to Shisha that hasn’t been as acknowledged before and that is that paedophiles use Shisha in order to groom children from the age of 13 as children have been going to Shisha bars and been in an unsafe environment.
The W.H.O (World Health Organisation) conducted a thorough investigation into the health risks of smoking Shisha for long periods of time. Their results were quite shocking and very conclusive. Shisha contains tobacco which is already harmful to burn and inhale; however the misconception is that the water in the Hookah filters out any harmful toxins. The evidence collected by The World Health Organisation proved this myth to be false. In fact, Shisha has been proven to be more harmful than cigarettes. Each 45 minute session the average person inhales between 100 – 200 cigarettes. The W.H.O was almost instantly attacked by a ‘tobacco expert’ from London with a Middle-Eastern background. Dr Kamal Chaouachi said; “It is ludicrous and anti-scientific to claim that Hookah or Shisha smoke is 200 times more toxic than cigarette smoke.” He also states that a ‘medical-team’ in Pakistan found that Shisha smoke ‘can be’ less carcinogenic and radioactive than cigarette smoke. This statement is very interesting as it seems that those with a Middle-Eastern background defend Shisha smoking by ignoring and fighting scientific, conclusive evidence saying it is all false and “anti-scientific”. This is interesting as the majority of Shisha smokers are from an Asian ethnicity.