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Monday, 16 November 2015

Still think smoking Shisha is cool?Think again..

Over the weekend while catching up with a friend at a local pub, we were rudely interrupted by a young man.I say rudely because he came armed with an assortment of pipes (tubes) which he proceeded to place stark in the middle of the table almost spilling our drinks. While we were still perturbed, he went on to up-sell his paraphernalia to our bewilderment.It is out of curiosity that we gave him 4 of our valuable minutes within which he tried to close the sale  by offering the benefits of shisha including all the different flavors he had. Don’t get me wrong, I have seen shisha pipes before and I have been with people (some that I know) partake of it. The young man went on to  mention the benefits –key of which was achieving a‘feel good’upon inhalation of the stuff. Seeing that we were uninterested, he moved on to the next table to gain new ‘converts’. This got me thinking and lo and behold; a blog idea was born.

Shisha smoking–also called hookah, narghile, water pipe, or hubble bubble smoking – is a way of smoking tobacco, sometimes mixed with fruit or molasses sugar, through a bowl and hose or tube. (BTW:Did you know that in 2014 NACADA banned 19 flavours of Shisha believed to contain bhang and heroin?....)

Lifestyle trends and styles tend to change every other year. While a few of them, such as going to a local pub for a pint or two, become an integral part of the Kenyan culture, plenty of others are quickly forgotten. Shisha smoking has been here for quite a long time (traced back to 15th Century) It’s quickly becoming a first-choice leisure activity for more and more people in Kenya. Some people gather for shisha smoking sessions at certain cafes and bars, and some do it at home in a familiar environment. I know you probably wonder whether there could possibly be any negative health effects of smoking shisha. Even more strange is someone thinking that there is no negative effect on shisha smoking and consider it a completely risk free habit while on the other hand they will loathe cigarette smoking.

Deep inhalation of Shisha;detrimental to health.
However, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Hookah smoking can be as damaging, addictive and dangerous as cigarettes, because the tobacco is no less toxic in a water-pipe. In fact, a habitual shisha smoker might breathe in much more poisonous fumes during an hour-long session than a typical cigarette smoker inhales in a few days. This will obviously result into such long-term health risks as cancer and heart, skin, and gum diseases. The ‘thrill’ that every shisha smoker gets will convince them to tell you that they can quit anytime and they keep doing it just because it’s highly enjoyable. The nicotine in hookah tobacco is as addictive as the one in cigarettes though, so completely quitting shisha might take some time.

Shisha smokers due to frequency of puffing, depth of inhalation, and length of the smoking session may absorb higher concentrations of the toxins found in cigarette smoke, thus increasing the hazard to the body.

The charcoal used to heat tobacco in the Shisha pipes increases the health risks. Even after it has passed through water, the smoke produced by Shisha contains high levels of toxic compounds, including carbon monoxide, heavy metals, and cancer-causing chemicals. Shisha tobacco and smoke contain numerous toxic substances known to cause lung, bladder, and oral cancers. A typical one-hour session of hookah smoking exposes the user to 100 to 200 times the volume of smoke inhaled from a single cigarette.

Irritation from exposure to tobacco juices increases the risk of developing oral cancers. The irritation by tobacco juice products is likely to be greater among Shisha smokers than among pipe or cigar smokers because Shisha smoking is typically practiced (with or without inhalation) more often and for longer periods of time.

Shisha tobacco and smoke contain numerous toxic substances known to cause clogged arteries and heart disease. There is an increased level of nicotine and cotinine (a byproduct of nicotine) in the blood plasma, saliva and urine of Shisha smokers that affects the periodontal tissues.

Ladies enjoying their Shisha at an outdoor function.
Hookah pipes used in hookah bars and cafes may not be cleaned properly, risking the spread of infectious diseases. Infectious diseases including tuberculosis (which can infect the lungs or other parts of the body), aspergillus (a fungus that can cause serious lung infections), and helicobacter (which can cause stomach ulcers) may be spread by sharing the pipe or through the way the tobacco is prepared. Hookah pipes used in hookah bars and cafes may not be cleaned properly, risking the spread of infectious diseases.

Attention Ladies: Shisha smoking among pregnant mothers is risky to the baby as well, since the child may face underweight problems and difficulty in breathing. Babies born to women who smoked one or more water pipes a day during pregnancy have lower birth weights (were at least 3½ ounces less) than babies born to non-smokers and are at an increased risk for respiratory diseases.

Footballer Dennis Oliech enjoying his shisha
Using Shisha smoke poses a serious potential health hazard to smokers and others exposed to the smoke emitted. The second hand smoke from Shisha poses a serious risk for non-smokers, particularly because it contains smoke not only from the tobacco but also from the heat source (e.g., charcoal) used in the hookah.

Attention Men: Some effects of shisha smoking include sexual impotence.

Hookah and Shisha smoking deliver almost the same amount of nicotine as cigarettes do, leading to nicotine addiction.

How to STOP smoking Shisha

First and foremost intervention will be to remove smoking triggers.
Smoking triggers may vary from one smoker to another.  It is best to know which trigger your urge to smoke shisha to be able to make a plan for dealing with it.

A Party ain't a party without Shisha?
Attending Social functions? No need to avoid parties and other social gatherings.  Just make sure you don’t go near to friends who smoke shisha. Or, if shisha smoking sessions begins, you can either stay outside for some fresh air or ask permission to go home.

Friends who smoke. Avoid friends who smoke shisha for a while.Try talking to them that you quit smoking shisha and ask them not to smoke when you’re around.

Stressful situations;-Look for ways to make you relax and feel good.  Treating yourself with a very relaxing massage or maybe a hot shower will do.

Boredom;- Keep yourself busy. You can take a short walk or try a new hobby.Read a book or something.

Have a good diet; A good diet will not only keep you a steady supply of energy but also makes you feel better and keeps you relax. Eating the right kind of food is very important to help you quit shisha smoking. Vegetables. Broccoli, peppermint, spinach and other vegetables high in magnesium have a relaxing effect on the body and helps you more focused. Dairy foods.  Milk, eggs and other dairy foods are high in tryptophan, a compound which help in the production of serotonin.  Serotonin is known to induce a calming effect and can help with depression.
Fruits.  Oranges, guava, mangoes, pineapple, papaya and bananas are rich in vitamin c, which help in converting tryptophan into serotonin, thus keeping you calm and relax.

Establish the right attitude;-Be Determined. Decide what’s best for your health.This is vital to achieve a tobacco-free life. When you ultimately decide to quit shisha smoking, you must be determined to stick to your plan for a healthier life.

Patience;-Quitting shisha smoking is not easy.  The idea
of quitting alone is very stressful.  Give yourself some time and take each day as it comes.  Always remember that all these discomforts of quitting shisha smoking are temporary.  And at the end, it’s you who will benefit the most.

Smoke shisha?It your choice..
Positive thinking. Always remember that if others can do it, so can you.  Positive thinking is very important to help you quit shisha smoking. Squash negative thoughts and think positive.

FINAL NOTE: As i began my blog post today,i realised Shisha smoking had also been mentioned by a Newspaper Columnist Njoki Chege and the Twitter Universe had gone loco baying for her blood because she had castigated Shisha smoking.Hmm..interesting.Keep smoking in your 20's..let's talk to your cancerous self in your late thirties my friends.Take a step back before you bash Njoki Chege and her article  as you drink your Smirnoff Ice Guarana and Smoke your Shisha, take a moment and ponder about these facts. The use of smoking Shisha as a past time hobby, a bonding session or a social event for some is entirely our choice. That temporary bliss given by smoking Shisha for a long run is not to be ignored though. The listed effects of smoking Shisha above are just some of the effects and we do not know what more could it cause. The sure thing is, the moment you are having a Shisha session you are also buying yourself a ticket in slowly killing your body bits by bits.

The prevalence of people smoking Shisha as a way of life is a call for attention.By way of this information people can make decisions to save or if they choose to ruin their body. If smoking cigarettes is harmful, then hookah smoking is only worse.The choice is yours.

The Scribe Rests his Pen.

@Kenyanscibe on Twitter.


  1. WORD!!!
    I hope they that smoke hookah read this and get insight,,,

  2. if you dont like it,dont hate it