If you ask today’s youth about what they like to do when they’re not camping out in the library studying for midterms or finishing up assignments, they’ll most likely present a scenario that involves them and a group of close friends hanging out at a local shisha lounge, and snapchatting any member of the crew who successfully manages to blow out perfectly-shaped rings of fruit-scented smoke. According to Manchester Health & Care Commissioning, a ‘shisha’ is a smoking device that is placed vertically on the ground next to the smoker. Tobacco is placed in a compartment within the shisha stand and it is heated beneath pieces of charcoal. The heat from the charcoal pushes the smoke into a water container where it is supposedly filtered. It then passes into a plastic pipe connected to the stand and is inhaled by the smoker. Although the act of smoking shisha originated from the high-class society of India in the 15th century, it has grown to become a popular hobby within countries in Europe and North America as well. However, contrary to popular belief, shisha is notorious for the negative health effects it invokes within avid users.
Most people are under the impression that since the smoke is filtered through water, it loses many of its toxins, and thus isn’t as harmful as the smoke from regular cigarettes. However, according to the Government of South Australia’s health department, only 5 per cent of the toxic chemicals such as, but not limited to: tar, and fine particles, are filtered out. Since shisha is considered to be a social activity, people tend to smoke it for longer periods of time without realizing it. Users can easily spend 2-3 hours smoking while socializing. In other words, one hour of consuming shisha is equivalent to smoking around 100 to 200 cigarettes! In addition to this, consumers are exposed to more smoke from a shisha pipe as compared to a cigarette stick. This is because a larger suction force is required to pull the smoke through the long pipe while cigarette sticks require small puffs or medium-sized drags.
Many shisha lounges are increasingly springing up around cities. Haze Lounge and Tche Tche in Mississauga are one of the many popular spots for youth to smoke shisha that have opened up in the recent years. Due to its social attractiveness and the misconception that the various fruity flavours and scents eliminate the nicotine from the shisha, youth are increasingly turning towards it as a means of leisure, not realizing the harmful effects it could have on their health. Pressure to conform to the expectations of their peers of what constitutes popularity has led many youngsters to become addicted to the act of smoking shisha. If society cannot digest the thought of seeing someone smoking around 10-15 cigarettes a day, then why should they turn a blind eye towards an activity that is equivalent to the consumption of cigarettes in the hundreds? Effort needs to be made in order to raise awareness of its harmful nature which should be directed towards youngsters.