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Huqqah More Harmful Than Cigarettes Print

It's a myth that huqqah or sheeshah smoking is safer than smoking cigarettes. The tobacco is no less toxic. Huqqah smokers actually inhale more tobacco smoke than do cigarette smokers because of the massive volume of smoke they inhale. Huqqah is a water pipe. It has a growing popularity among teens and young adults in the west. The trend of huqqah smoking has doctors and public health experts concerned because - despite claims to the contrary by many users - smoking from a huqqah is just as dangerous as smoking cigarettes.


The huqqah device:

  • A base, or smoke chamber, which is partially filled with water;
  • A bowl, which contains tobacco and the heating source;
  • A pipe that connects the bowl to the base and dips into the water in the base;
  • A hose, a second tube in the pipe that does not dip into the water but opens into air in the base and allows users to inhale the huqqah smoke.

When a smoker inhales through the tube, a pressure difference forces air past the heating source and heats the tobacco, which gives off smoke. The smoke is pulled away from the tobacco and passes through the water and into the smoke chamber — from which it is inhaled by the smoker.


Harms of Egypt’s national addiction

Egypt is trying to combat its population's huqqah habit. Dr Fatima al-Awa of World Health Organisation's (WHO) regional office says, "One hour with a sheeshah is equal to 100-200 cigarettes." She added that for a similar nicotine intake a sheeshah exposes users to more smoke than cigarettes. A WHO study found that the regular waterpipe smoker is exposed to larger amounts of nicotine, carbon monoxide and some other toxins than the typical cigarette smoker. It points out that the force needed to pull the air through the hose allows the smoke to reach much deeper into the lungs.


An Egyptian study headed by former health minister Awad Tageddin also established that huqqah is largely responsible for reintroducing tuberculosis in the country.


Egypt is one of the countries in the world that is the most affected by tobacco use. "An average of 2.5 % of household income is spent on tobacco in Egypt, which is more than on health and leisure," said al-Awa.



When cigarette smoking first became widespread, not all Ulama declared it Haraam, since data on its harms were not available at the time. This was remedied as its harms were revealed and understood. In the same way, Huqqah is now known to be harmful and should be avoided. The Hadith states, "Your body has a right over you."


sk/2008-04-07 13:04:05

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