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The truth behind the smoke

Shisha smoking – also called hookah, narghile, waterpipe or hubble bubble smoking – is a way of smoking tobacco, sometimes mixed with fruit or molasses sugar, through a bowl and hose or tube.  

School workshops on shisha awareness

School workshops are being delivered by an external partner, Cut Films, to raise awareness about shisha. If you’re a school and are interested in the workshops available, please visit their website

Do you know the health risks about smoking shisha?

Fact 1

Smoking shisha is just as damaging to your health as smoking cigarettes. The flavourings and sweeteners only disguise the harmful ingredients in the tobacco. 

Fact 2    

The water in the shisha pipe does not filter out harmful chemicals and you are still exposing yourself and those around you to these chemicals. The water cools the smoke making it less irritating but not less harmful. 

Fact 3

Smoking shisha tobacco is just like smoking cigarettes. They both contain nicotine, which is addictive. 

Fact 4

Smoking shisha can damage your health and the health of those around you.

Fact 5

Smoking herbal shisha is not safer as it usually contains tobacco. Even if you use tobacco-free shisha, you’re still at risk from carbon monoxide and any toxins in the coal or charcoal used to burn the shisha. Second hand smoke is also a risk to health when smoking herbal shisha.

Are shisha cafes exempt from smoke-free regulations?

No. Shisha cafes must comply with the smoke-free regulations which have been in force since 1 July 2007 to protect the public and people at work from the harmful effects of second hand smoke.

Our Public Health team have put together a compliance guide to help the owners of cafes, bars and restaurants ensure they’re meeting statutory requirements.

Find out more on the smoke-free regulations.

Want to quit? We can help.

Are you concerned about the health risks associated with smoking shisha? For more information and for advice on how you can stop smoking call the Smokefree National Freephone Helpline on 0300 123 1044 or visit our dedicated stop smoking support page

Campaign work in 2017

In January 2017, we will be running a campaign across the borough to bust the myths around smoking shisha. The campaign, primarily aimed at young people aged 16 – 24, will include: bus shelter panels, social media posts, school workshops, interviews with registered GPs and digital advertising. We will also be working with Middlesex University to help get the health messages to their students.


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