Wednesday 14 March 2012
Rise in ‘shisha bars’ prompts health warning on dangers of waterpipe smoking
The British Heart Foundation is warning of the dangers of shisha on No Smoking Day (today) as new data reveals a dramatic rise in the number of shisha bars across the UK coupled with widespread unawareness of the harm it can cause.
Freedom of Information (FoI) data from 133 local authorities in major towns and cities across the UK shows the number of shisha bars has rocketed by 210 per cent since the year the smoking ban came into force. The figures show there were 179 known shisha bars in 2007 compared with 556 now.
Shisha smokers inhaling flavoured tobacco through exotic waterpipes have become a common sight in city streets. But under the romance and heady smells lies a familiar killer the BHF wants the public to be aware of.
Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the BHF, said: “Contrary to popular belief, shisha is not safer than smoking cigarettes. Don’t be duped by the sweet smell and wholesome sounding fruity flavours, if you use shisha you are a smoker and that means you’re putting your health at risk.
“It’s linked to the same serious and life-threatening diseases as cigarettes and there are added risks because you often smoke it for far longer than you would a cigarette and you’re also exposed to toxins from the wood or charcoal used to burn the tobacco. Fortunately No Smoking Day is a great opportunity for anyone who smokes, in whatever form, to try and quit.”
Shisha smoking is linked to the same kinds of diseases as cigarette smoking including heart disease, cancer, respiratory disease and problems during pregnancy (1). Yet more than one in ten (13%) UK adults surveyed for the BHF thought there were no health harms from using shisha, and just 43 per cent knew shisha could contain tobacco (2).
The FoI data shows 53 per cent of local authorities have – or have had - a shisha bar since 2007, while more than 40 per cent have seen a rise in the number of shisha bars since the smoking ban came into force (3).
This is in stark contrast to the steady decline in cigarette smokers in the UK (4) and has prompted the BHF to urge people to find out the facts about shisha, which is also known as hookah, hubble bubble and narghile, as part of its No Smoking Day campaign.
More than 750,000 people attempt to quit on No Smoking Day each year. But the charity is concerned thousands of quitters may still be putting their health at risk by using shisha, and that the rising number of shisha bars could provide a new gateway for people to start smoking and become addicted to tobacco.
Almost everyone surveyed for the BHF were unaware that during a typical hour-long shisha session you can inhale the same amount of smoke as from more than 100 tobacco cigarettes (5). A total of 84 per cent of respondents thought it was 10 or fewer.
The survey results also showed shisha is most popular among young people with more than a quarter (27%) of 18 to 24 year olds saying they’d used it. Worryingly misconceptions about the dangers of shisha were highest among this group and those aged 25-34 with 15 per cent each believing there were no health harms from shisha at all while 44 per cent of the younger adults thought it was less harmful than cigarettes.
By comparison, 17 per cent of overall respondents thought shisha was less harmful than cigarettes.
The data showed shisha is no longer a pastime for perceived specific community groups alone, with almost one in ten (8%) people of white ethnicity saying they’d used it.
The survey also showed almost one in ten (9%) former cigarette smokers have used shisha as well as almost one in ten (8%) non-smokers.
Smokers who want to find out more can visit www.taketheleap.co.uk or call 0800 434 6677.
For more information please call the BHF press office on 020 7554 0164 or 07764 290381 (out of hours) or email email@example.com
1. From ‘Narghile (Hubble-Bubble) Smoking, Low Birth Weight and Other Pregnancy Outcomes’ by I Nuwayhid et al. Published in the American Journal of Epidemology 148(4), 375-383, 1998.
2. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2291 adultsof which there were respondent boosts of 50 people each to the following ethnic groups – Mixed (NET), Asian (NET), Black (NET), Chinese and Other Ethnic group. Fieldwork was undertaken between 10th - 13th February 2012. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
3. The BHF issued Freedom of Information requests to all 33 London boroughs and 100 local authorities in other major towns and cities across the UK to find out the number of known shisha bars operating now and in 2007. All data was captured between December 2011 and February 2012.
4. Bauld L. The impact of smokefree legislation in England: Evidence review. University of Bath, 2011 View report
5. ‘Towards a topographical model of narghile water-pipe café smoking: a pilot study in a high socio-economic status neighbourhood in Beirut, Lebanon’ by Alan Shihadeh et al. Published in Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behaviour 79 (2004) 75-82. DOI: 10.1016/jpbb.2004.06.005 AND ‘Doses of Nicotine and Lung Carcinogens Delivered to Cigarette Smokers’ by Mirjana V Djordjevic et al. Published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Vol 92, No. 2, January 19 2000.
No Smoking Day is now part of the British Heart Foundation. The annual health campaign, which is now in its 29th year, inspires and helps smokers who want to quit, and is supported by an alliance of UK health bodies and charities.
Smokers can visit www.WeQuit.co.uk, an online hub full of information and tips on how to quit. It also includes a forum where people can chat with more than 40,000 other quitters about the issues they face. (www.taketheleap.co.uk will route people to this site)
The British Heart Foundation is the nation’s heart charity, dedicated to saving lives through pioneering research, patient care, campaigning for change and by providing vital information. But we urgently need help. We rely on donations of time and money to continue our life-saving work. Because together we can beat heart disease. For more information visit bhf.org.uk/pressoffice
Solutions 4 Health is supporting No Smoking Day. It is a national organisation working in partnership with local NHS services and offers a range of smoking cessation support, from giving information, to providing nicotine replacement therapy, such as patches or gum. For free support to stop smoking at any time, call Solutions 4 Health on 0800 634 9139. They also provide a face-to-face online clinic atwww.smokefreelife.co.uk
The Cardio Wellness charity is supported by Solutions4Health and its main purpose is to tackle health inequality, raise awareness, provide education and support to deprived, hard to reach communities on Coronary Heart Disease, Diabetes, obesity, exercise, risks of smoking, shisha and oral tobacco chewing. Please visit www.cardio-wellness.com for more information.