LONDON - Shisha smokers can exhale a sigh of relief after a new scientific study revealed that waterpipe users inhale far fewer harmful emissions and far less nicotine than cigarette smokers.
The new scientific study, which was commissioned by Ajman-based Al Fakher, the world’s leading manufacturer and supplier of shisha, analysed the composition of shisha pipe aerosol and compared it to cigarette smoke.
It quantified for the first time – using state-of-the-art machine comparisons – that waterpipe users inhale far fewer harmful emissions and far less nicotine than cigarette smokers.
The findings were contrary to claims by the World Health Organisation that an hour-long shisha session was equivalent to smoking 100-200 cigarettes.
A 2005 WHO advisory note recommended water pipes and water-pipe tobacco be subjected to the same regulation as cigarettes and banned from public places.
“Contrary to ancient lore and popular belief, the smoke that emerges from a water pipe contains numerous toxicants known to cause lung cancer, heart disease and other disease,” WHO’s specialist tobacco study group (TobReg) warned.
However, the new study showed cigarette smoke was far more toxic than the aerosol created by waterpipes, which heat (rather than burn) shisha molasses at low temperatures. Waterpipes heat shisha to 190 degrees, while cigarettes burn at up to 900 degrees.
“It is great news! I thought that smoking shisha was far more harmful than cigarettes,” said Mohammed who smokes shisha almost on a daily basis.
“Nonetheless, as a heavy shisha smoker, I can feel its repercussions when I run,” Mohammed told Middle East Online.
Using benchmark consumption patterns set out by Germany’s Federal Institute of Risk Assessment (BfR), the study showed that average shisha users are exposed to 97% less nicotine than typical smokers, and 85% fewer emissions of concern.
The study also suggested that many of these emissions come from the heat source (charcoal) rather than the heating of the shisha molasses, making charcoal replacement and new heating techniques (such as electric heating) a prime area for innovation.