Hooked on the Hookah

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Shisha Smoking on the rise in Leicester

SHISHA smoking is on the rise in Leicester and worried health officials at Leicester City Council are stepping up a drive to warn smokers of the dangers.

The city has seen an increase of shisha premises with customers believing it to be a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes.

But this couldn’t be further from the truth with recent studies showing the increased health risks posed by shisha smoking.

GP’s in the city have also noted an unusual increase in the numbers of teenagers going into surgeries with shisha smoking symptoms.

Now officers from Leicester City Council’s Health and Safety Team are trying to create awareness regarding the risks of smoking shisha before it becomes a habit.

A number of awareness days conducted by the Health and Safety team aimed at students found alarming misconceptions concerning shisha smoking.

While all those students questioned could identify the health effects of cigarette smoking, only a handful knew that shisha smoking was worse. Most thought wrongly that is was a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes.

In fact studies have shown that shisha smokers actually inhale more nicotine than cigarette smokers because of the massive volume of smoke they inhale.

Research by the World Health Organisation and others has shown that an average shisha smoking session is equivalent to smoking up to 200 cigarettes.

Shisha smoking can also transmit infections and viruses such as oral herpes, TB, hepatitis and the common flu, and like cigarettes can lead to lung or mouth cancer, so people need to know the dangers before they decide whether to smoke or not.

Govind Mandora, Health and Safety Team Manager at Leicester City Council, said: “My officers are working together with other agencies to ensure all shisha cafes in Leicester are complying with smokefree regulations and not allow shisha smoking to take place within enclosed premises. These visits have resulted in a number of businesses that have flouted the law being prosecuted and we are in the process taking more cases to court.”

Councillor Sarah Russell, cabinet lead for the environment, added: “Leicester City Council is taking education and preventative action to not only raise awareness but more importantly reduce the cases of ill health in Leicester from shisha smoking.”

SHISHA SMOKING: Do you know the Dangers?

Smoking shisha poses a serious potential health hazard to smokers and others exposed to the smoke.

Shisha smoke contains high levels of chemicals and poisons, including carbon monoxide, tar and heavy metals.

Many of these chemicals are known to cause mouth and lung cancers, heart disease, respiratory and other diseases.

Even though it has passed through water, the levels of toxins in shisha smoke can be as high or higher than in cigarette smoke.

Shisha smokers may absorb higher concentrations of these chemicals because of higher concentrations in the smoke itself, or because they may smoke for several hours at a time and may inhale moisturized, less irritating smoke more deeply.

In a shisha session lasting 60 minutes, a smoker can inhale as much smoke as a cigarette smoker would inhale from 100 – 200 cigarettes.

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