Sheffield City Council have launched a campaign against smoking shisha after successfully prosecuting a number of bars across the city, yet some say there is not enough research to prove it has detrimental effects.
Since June 2018 the council have issued £15,000 worth of fines to shisha bars across Sheffield for breaking a ban on smoking indoors.
They now want to take further action with a campaign called ‘Think It’s Safe?’ through which they hope to target young men, in particular, through social media.
Greg Fell, the director of public health Sheffield, said: “There are many misconceptions about shisha, with some people thinking that it’s safer to smoke than traditional cigarettes.”
He added the World Health Organisation said smoking shisha, also known as hookah, for one hour is equivalent to smoking 100 cigarettes.
Mr Fell added: “As part of the Smokefree Sheffield initiative, we want people to know that shisha is not safe and to inform them about the risks of smoking it so they can make informed choices about their health and their futures.”
Shisha pipes have water at the bottom and flavoured tobacco (or non-tobacco herbal mixtures) covered with foil at the top. Hot coals are placed on top of the foil and the user breathes through a hose which draws smoke through the water to be inhaled.
Some believe shisha is a safer alternative to cigarettes as the smoke passes through water and 'purifyies' it before being inhaled. Others suggest it carries the same harmful effects as cigarettes.
Councillor Mary Lea, cabinet member for culture, parks and leisure, said: “Not only is it important for the public to know about the dangers of shisha, but it is vital for us to ensure that shisha bars are also complying with the law.
“Smokefree regulations are there to protect the public and the council will continue our work to tackle illegal tobacco consumption as part of our wider aims for a smokefree future.”
Nadeem Shahzad, manager of Cigara vape store on Arundel Gate, said he has enjoyed smoking shisha occasionally for years and said there is not enough information to prove shisha is as harmful as the council said.
He said: “I’m not 100 per cent certain what actually goes into shisha but from what I gather as it is tobacco based then, yes, it will be pretty dangerous to your health. But I know some shisha is just dried fruit so I can’t see why that would be unhealthy.
“There’s not enough information out there to prove if it is as unhealthy as cigarettes.
“If you can prove that other people not smoking can be affected by shisha then you have to treat shisha bars just like you would if they were smoking cigarettes. But more research needs to be done.
“I think shisha bars generally are a good thing – it’s not like alcohol where people come out drunk and start causing trouble. Everyone comes out and they are still in the same state as they were going in.”