At every bar frequented by Egyptian men, you’ll see her elegantly displayed at his side like a trophy set to clear his mind and relax his body as he pleases. He lifts a part of her and sucks through her mouth the fragrant air that the water and fire within her creates. Satiated, he holds her close to him for another relaxing puff that she so shamelessly emits. She goes by the name of Shisha – a glass smoking water pipe commonly preferred by Arabs for its tobacco filtering function.
Shisha is truly akin to a woman; in particular to Delilah whose elegance and beauty has taunted Samson to submission and to the loss of his vigor. Those who favor smoking shisha are actually yielding more than the nicotine intake of a pack of cigarettes, i.e. one shisha session equates to 60 cigarette sticks.
According to the World Health Organization, “Shisha smoke retains all the carcinogens of cigarette smoke while adding more carbon monoxide and a separate set of carcinogens from the use of burning coals to keep the nicotine flowing”. In addition, Mostafa Kamal, of the Egyptian Smoking Prevention Research Institute, had concluded that a third of Egypt‘s 34,000 annual tobacco-related deaths, were due to smoking shisha.
Other hazards of smoking shisha are:
- Inhalation of high levels of toxic compounds, leading to heart diseases and lung and oral cancers.
- Infection with tuberculosis, herpes, hepatitis and gum diseases from shared mouthpieces.
- New toxins are added from artificially-flavoured tobacco
- Involves health risks to second-hand smokers
- Causes wrinkles and sexual impotence.
Smoking shisha may lead to a wondrous pipe dream for a mere moment. It may give the impression of sophistication but when health is at risk, it is better to divert vices to something cooler like eating foods rich in zinc.