Before nicotine vaping products (NVPs) and vaping culture became popular worldwide, ‘shisha’ or ‘hookah’ was one of the biggest alternatives to smoking a cigarette. With its pleasant aroma and communal nature, many people perceive it as less harmful than tobacco.
But is it really safer? Unfortunately, it isn’t. Shisha smoking is still similar to tobacco smoking and carries its own set of dangers. It still uses coal to heat the water that masks the taste of tobacco, producing carcinogens on the same level as cigarettes.
In this post, we will delve into the hidden risks associated with shisha smoking and debunk the myth of its safety.
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What is Shisha Smoking?
Shisha smoking involves the use of a water pipe apparatus that typically consists of a bowl of flavoured tobacco prepared with molasses in water, a pipe, and a hose. By heating charcoal, which is then placed on top of the bowl filled with water, it produces smoke the same way heated tobacco devices do.
Using shisha is a much more involved process than just lighting a cigarette. It requires assembly, preparing the flavoured tobacco leaves with molasses, and buying the right kind of charcoal.
The Dangerous Chemicals Found in Shisha Smoke
Shisha smoke might taste good, but it’s still smoke that’s dangerous to your health when inhaled, just like rolled cigarettes. Contrary to popular belief, shisha smoke contains a staggering number of harmful chemicals.
Research has revealed that shisha smoke contains approximately 4,800 toxic substances, including 69 known carcinogens. Similar to cigarette smoke, these carcinogens significantly increase the risk of developing cancer and various cardiovascular diseases. Also like cigarettes, shisha smoke emits dangerous particulate matter, poisonous carbon monoxide, and nicotine.
So, knowing about this, maybe it’s best to hold off any plans to buy a shisha apparatus as a way to quit smoking (because it’s no better for you).
Shisha Versus Cigarettes
Many people assume shisha is safer than cigarettes because it tastes good and has no smoke-like flavour. For some people, they believe shisha sessions tend to be safer because they do it less frequently than light up a cigarette – it’s a hassle to assemble and prepare the apparatus. But none of these claims are true.
Shisha sessions can last from more than an hour to a few hours. If we do the math, that means you’re continuously smoking more than 100 cigarettes per session. Longer exposure to toxic substances in shisha smoke, which is similar to cigarette smoke, endangers your health tenfold. In fact, regular shisha smokers are in much more danger than the average pack-a-day smoker.
Vaping Versus Shisha
Nicotine vaping products (NVPs) have become popular in many countries today, including Australia. They also produce a pleasant smell and taste, but unlike shisha, they are not tobacco and do not produce smoke.
But, regarding hazardous chemicals and carcinogens, it’s important to note that illicit NVPs (such as those found illegally in convenience stores and tobacconists) can still contain undisclosed chemicals hazardous to your health.
Alternatively, Most of these chemicals are not found at all in pharmacy vapes. NVP products sold in pharmacies are made under stringent pharmaceutical standards on the manufacturing process and ingredients, are toxicologically assessed for inhalation, are locally insured, and are specifically designed to help you stop smoking.
To learn more about them, here’s a full guide about pharmacy vapes.
Shisha as a Smoking Cessation Tool
Despite its popularity and allure, shisha is not a viable smoking cessation tool. As mentioned, it still contains the same dangerous chemicals as cigarette smoke. In fact, regular use is much more hazardous to your health than a pack of cigarettes every day.
A Healthier You Without Shisha and Cigarettes
Shisha and tobacco are one and the same, one just has much more flavour and personality and can be much more dangerous than the other. Doing away with both is the key to keeping yourself healthy.
It’s understandable that trying to quit smoking isn’t the easiest thing to do. Fortunately, GPs give you the best chance of quitting for good, as they’ve helped many ex-smokers quit successfully before with a plan tailored to their specific needs. They can also provide access to the right tools like nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and pharmacy NVPs to help you during your withdrawal phase.
While pharmacy-sourced NVPs are a second-line means after GPs find NRT products ineffective during your withdrawal phase, the latest Cochrane Review found high-certainty evidence that NVPs are more effective than NRT in helping people stop smoking.
Shisha smoking isn’t a viable alternative to smoking and isn’t healthier by any means. With every shisha session, you’re inhaling the equivalent of 100 cigarettes with the same dangerous chemicals and carcinogens. The only way to be healthy is to quit shisha and kick smoking out of your life.
You’re probably reading this because you’re wondering if shisha is a healthier way to smoke and aid your quit process. We hope this information helped. You can also find much more on this site that has helped quitters to be successful in their journey.
Smokefree Clinic gives you access to many medically reviewed and trustworthy resources that can inform and aid you in your path to wellness, so have a look around!
If you’re ready to get started, Smokefree can connect you to bulk-billing Australian healthcare professionals who excel in helping patients quit smoking for good, including using responsible vaping products where appropriate.
Click here to book your bulk-billed telehealth consultation with an Australian healthcare professional and quit smoking today.