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What Exactly is in Shisha?

  • 7 min reading time
What Exactly is in Shisha? - The Premium Way

Discover what shisha is, its components, and the health risks associated with shisha smoking. Learn about the misconceptions surrounding shisha and cigarettes, and the dangers of this popular pastime.

Introduction to Shisha

Shisha, also known as smoking hookah tobacco, narghile, or waterpipe, is a centuries-old tradition that originated in the Middle East and South Asia. It has become increasingly popular worldwide due to its unique social experience and flavorful tobacco smoke. In this article, we'll dive into the components of shisha, its different types, and the health concerns associated with smoking shisha.

The Shisha Experience

Shisha hookah smoking has become a social activity that brings people together. Hookah smoking lounges provide a relaxing atmosphere for friends to gather, converse, and share a hookah pipe. These establishments offer a variety of shisha flavours and often serve food and beverages as well.

Shisha has many flavours, from fruity options like apple, mango, and grape to minty, spicy, and coffee-infused blends. Using fruit flavourings has made shisha smoking more appealing to a broader audience, including young people and college students.

Components of Shisha

Shisha typically consists of four main components: molasses, tobacco, glycerin, and flavours or aromas. Molasses is a thick, sweet syrup derived from sugarcane or sugar beet. It acts as a binding agent, helping the tobacco and other ingredients stick together. Additionally, molasses creates a smooth, flavorful smoke when heated.

Tobacco is the primary ingredient in traditional shisha. The tobacco leaves are shredded and mixed with molasses to create a moist, smokeable product. Shisha tobacco can vary in nicotine content depending on the blend and washing process used.

Glycerin is a colourless, odourless liquid that maintains moisture in the shisha mixture. It also plays a significant role in producing thick clouds of smoke, which many shisha enthusiasts enjoy. Glycerin is generally considered safe for consumption and is used in various food and cosmetic products.

Natural and artificial flavourings are added to the tobacco mixture to create unique tastes and aromas. These flavours make cigarettes and shisha pipe smoking more appealing and enjoyable for many users.

Types of Shisha

Several types of shisha are available, catering to different preferences and concerns. Traditional shisha has tobacco leaves, molasses, glycerin, and flavourings. It contains nicotine, which makes people who smoke it addicted and produces a rich, satisfying smoke.

Herbal shisha is a nicotine-free alternative to traditional shisha. It is made with a blend of herbs-flavoured tobacco, honey, molasses, glycerin, and flavourings, providing a similar experience without the addictive properties of nicotine. However, it is essential to note that herbal shisha still produces harmful smoke when burned, so it is not entirely risk-free.

Shisha vs. Cigarettes

Some people may believe that smoking shisha is less harmful than smoking cigarettes, but this is a misconception. Both shisha and cigarette smokers smoke contain harmful chemicals that can lead to serious health problems.

Smoke Composition and Health Risks

Shisha smoke from hookah and cigarette smoke contains nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide, and various cancer-causing chemicals. While the water in a hookah pipe does filter out some impurities, it does not effectively remove all harmful substances from cigarettes used. A single hookah session can expose users to more smoke and dangerous chemicals than a single cigarette.

Health Concerns of Shisha

Nicotine Content and Addiction

As mentioned earlier, traditional shisha contains nicotine, a highly addictive substance. Regular shisha smoking can lead to nicotine addiction, making quitting challenging. Nicotine addiction can result in withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, anxiety, depression, and difficulty concentrating.

Carbon Monoxide and Heavy Metals

Shisha smoking exposes users to carbon monoxide, a toxic gas that can cause dizziness, headache, nausea, and even carbon monoxide poisoning in high concentrations. The burning charcoal used to heat the shisha also produces heavy metals, such as lead and arsenic, which can accumulate in the body and cause long-term health problems.

Secondhand Smoke and Heart Disease

Like cigarette smoke, shisha smoke can affect the health effects of people who are not actively smoking cigarettes. Secondhand shisha smoke contains harmful chemicals that can increase the risk of heart disease and other health problems in nonsmokers.

Lung Diseases and Pregnancy Risks

Regular shisha smoking can lead to chronic lung diseases such as bronchitis, emphysema, and lung cancer. Pregnant women who smoke shisha are at a higher risk of low birth weight babies, leading to various health problems in newborns, such as breathing difficulties, developmental delays, and increased vulnerability to infections.

The Process of Smoking Shisha

Water Pipe Setup and Filtration

Shisha is smoking tobacco, which involves using a water pipe consisting of a smoke chamber, a bowl to hold the tobacco, a hose with a mouthpiece, and a water container. The tobacco mixture is placed in the smoke tobacco bowl, covered with aluminium foil, and heated with burning charcoal.

The heat from the charcoal indirectly warms the tobacco mixture, causing it to release flavorful smoke. The smoke then travels through the water pipe, which is cooled and filtered by the water before inhaling through the hose. The water filtration system is designed to cool and filter the smoke, creating a smoother and more enjoyable experience. However, water filtration does not effectively remove all harmful chemicals that heat tobacco smoke, and users still inhale many harmful substances.

The popularity of Shisha Among Young People

College Students and Shisha

Shisha smoking has gained popularity among young people, particularly college students. The social aspect and appealing flavours have made it a trendy pastime on college campuses. Some young people may believe that shisha smoking is less harmful than cigarette smoking, but this misconception can lead to serious adverse health effects and consequences.

Centres for Disease Control on Shisha Use

CDC's Stance

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warns that smoking shisha can harm health, leading to addiction, various diseases, and exposure to toxic chemicals. The CDC emphasizes that no form of tobacco use is safe and

 

Encourages individuals to avoid all tobacco products, including shisha. They also recommend educating young people about the risks associated with shisha smoking to help prevent its use.

Conclusion

 

Shisha smoking may be an enjoyable social experience, but it is not without risks. The harmful chemicals and addictive properties of shisha can lead to various health problems, including nicotine addiction, lung diseases, heart disease, and pregnancy complications. Understanding these risks and educating others, especially young people, is essential to understand the dangers of shisha smoking. Avoiding shisha cigarette smokers and tobacco products altogether is the best way to safeguard your health and well-being.

FAQs

Is shisha smoking less harmful than cigarette smoking?

No, shisha smoking is not less harmful than cigarette smoking. Both shisha and cigarette smoke contain harmful chemicals that can lead to serious health problems.

Can herbal shisha be a safer alternative to traditional shisha?

Herbal shisha is nicotine-free, which eliminates the risk of nicotine addiction. However, when burned, it still produces harmful smoke, so it is not entirely risk-free.

How does the water filtration system in a hookah pipe work?

The water filtration system is designed to cool and filter the smoke, creating a smoother and more enjoyable experience. However, water filtration does not effectively remove all harmful chemicals, and users still inhale many harmful substances.

Why is shisha smoking popular among college students?

The social aspect of shisha smoking, combined with the appealing flavours, has made it a trendy pastime on college campuses. Some young people may believe shisha smoking is less harmful than cigarette smoking, but this misconception can lead to serious health consequences.

What is the CDC's stance on shisha smoking?

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warns that smoking shisha can harm health, leading to addiction, various diseases, and exposure to toxic chemicals. The CDC emphasizes that no form of tobacco use is safe and encourages individuals to avoid all tobacco products, including shisha.

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