‘Shisha’ is more dangerous, 04/06/10

Smoking shisha for hours is like smoking 400 cigarettes. -NST

A SMOKING ban should not be applied only to cigarettes but also shisha, a flavoured tobacco water pipe popular with Malaysians.

According to Associate Professor Dr Nabilla Abdul Mohsein Al-Sadat of Universiti Malaya, 1.5 per cent of women in Malaysia currently smoke but this number could rise to 18 per cent by 2014 if there are no barriers placed on shisha smoking.

Last week, the United Arab Emirates tightened the noose on smoking in public with new regulations that ban smoking in hotels, cafes and restaurants. It has also imposed stricter limitations on the widely used nargileh (shisha), the traditional water pipe.

Dr Nabilla says her studies and those conducted overseas show evidence that people inhaled more tobacco through the shisha than by smoking cigarettes.

“Some people tend to think that anything adopted from the Arab world is good. People think smoking shisha is harmless but, in fact, it is worse than cigarettes.

“Smoking shisha for hours is like smoking 400 cigarettes.”

Sharing of the water pipe also spreads contagious diseases.

“When I went to the UAE, I observed that shisha smoking has become a cultural habit. It has become the norm and if you don’t smoke, you are not part of their culture.”

At the World No Tobacco Day event on Tuesday, the Health Ministry warned women not to be taken in by tobacco companies that portray women smokers as being independent, mature, attractive and slim.

Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai says these were merely tactics used by these companies to tap into the female market, which according to World Health Organisation statistics is booming steadily.

Liow says the number of Malaysian women smokers is still low according to the National Health and Morbidity Surveys from 1996 and 2006.

It shows a reduction of two per cent to 1.5 per cent.

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