The theme of sheesha smoking as a dangerous new trend in tobacco use was a theme expressed in several sessions at the World Conference on Tobacco or Health.

World Health Organization tobacco expert Edouard Tursan d’Espaignet said, “A single puff from a water pipe nearly equals the volume of smoke inhaled from an entire cigarette, while one session of sheesha can equal smoking 20 to 30 cigarettes in one go”. Smoke from charcoal used to heat the tobacco also contains toxins.

The water-pipe — variously called hubbly-bubbly, hookah, sheesha or nargileh — has long been popular in the Middle East and North Africa and is increasingly popular elsewhere. This has become an important issue for tobacco control since it is often overlooked by regulators. In addition, aromatic flavorings added to the tobacco appeal to younger smokers.

Smoking sheesha has previously been the domain of older males, younger people between 18 and 24 years old living in cities and educated are increasingly taking up the habit.

The researchers say that the harmful effects include impact on the respiratory system, cardiovascular system and oral health.