Time to ban the shisha

Shisha Smokers

I’ve seen this in my neighbourhood – shisha (hookah) cafes where youngsters meetup for a drink and at the same time indulge in shisha smoking.
Now the MOH mulls a Shisha Ban

GEORGE TOWN (June 30, 2013): The Health Ministry is considering a ban on shisha and other forms of smoking.
Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said the ministry is studying the legal framework for a ban on alternative forms of smoking, including shisha (flavoured tobacco) and e-cigarettes.
“There are two issues here, which is the instrument used for smoking and the compounds used in the instrument,” he said.
While it is easy to ban the substances used in alternative smoking, it is a challenge to classify the instrument used.
“In other countries, shisha is mixed with spices. However, the substances used locally are tobacco and sometimes drugs. This is where the problem arises,” he said.
Subramaniam said the ministry is looking into the long-term effect of this form of smoking before making a ruling.

In case you are wondering Is hookah smoking safer than smoking cigarettes? Here’s the view point from Mayo clinic:

Hookah smoking is not safer than cigarette smoking.

Also known as narghile, shisha and goza, a hookah is a water pipe with a smoke chamber, a bowl, a pipe and a hose. Specially made tobacco is heated, and the smoke passes through water and is then drawn through a rubber hose to a mouthpiece.

The tobacco is no less toxic in a hookah pipe, and the water in the hookah does not filter out the toxic ingredients in the tobacco smoke. Hookah smokers may actually inhale more tobacco smoke than cigarette smokers do because of the large volume of smoke they inhale in one smoking session, which can last as long as 60 minutes.

While research about hookah smoking is still emerging, evidence shows that it poses many dangers:

Hookah smoke contains high levels of toxic compounds, including tar, carbon monoxide, heavy metals and cancer-causing chemicals (carcinogens). In fact, hookah smokers are exposed to more carbon monoxide and smoke than are cigarette smokers.
As with cigarette smoking, hookah smoking is linked to lung and oral cancers, heart disease, and other serious illnesses.
Hookah smoking delivers about the same amount of nicotine as cigarette smoking, possibly leading to tobacco dependence.
Hookah smoke poses dangers associated with secondhand smoke.
Hookah smoking by pregnant women can result in low birth weight babies.
Hookah pipes used in hookah bars and cafes may not be cleaned properly, risking the spread of infectious diseases.

We urge the MOH – it’s high time to ban the Shisha, and the sooner the better.

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Malaysian physician, haematologist, blogger, web and tech enthusiast

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