Smoking re-burnt cigarettes is toxic

Cool but dangerous : Doctors warn of the shisha trend

A sweet aroma wafts through the air, accompanied by a cozy bubbling. “They are only allowed to be used with herbal mixtures,” says Siegfried Ermer, federal chairman of Pro Rauchfrei, outraged. What is meant are the Arabic water pipes in the shisha bars. "We have now issued warnings to a number of shisha bar operators who use tobacco in Bavaria," reports Ermer. "Many regulatory agencies are too lax and don't even want to know what is happening in the shisha bars," he criticizes.

A few weeks ago, the Düsseldorf University Hospital sounded the alarm: More and more shisha smokers would have to be treated with life-threatening carbon monoxide poisoning in the hyperbaric chamber. This year there were already almost 40 water pipe smokers - two years ago it was only one.

The risk is now likely to increase in the cold season, warns the Federal Center for Health Education in Cologne. It is well known that the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning increases significantly in closed rooms. Treacherous: The early signs of poisoning such as nausea, dizziness and headaches are usually attributed to tobacco when smoking shisha. The North Rhine Medical Association is now calling for carbon monoxide detectors to be a mandatory device for every shisha bar in order to sound the alarm in good time. In many pubs, water pipe charcoal is burned around the clock, which increases the carbon monoxide content in them.

Nationwide numbers with the cause of hookah smoking are searched in vain: "The carbon monoxide poisoning is only recorded as a whole, that includes the defective thermal bath and the charcoal grill operated inside," says a spokesman for the Techniker Krankenkasse.

With their sweet, fruity aroma, hookahs seem to replace cigarettes as an entry drug into tobacco consumption. Every second student in a tenth grade has smoked tobacco from a shisha at some point. 15 percent of the tenth graders regularly use the water pipe, according to a study by the health insurance company DAK-Gesundheit, for which 7,000 schoolchildren in six federal states were surveyed.

Smoking shisha also increases the risk of cancer

According to the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, long-term shisha smoking can worsen lung function and increase the risk of cancer. The assumption that the smoke from water pipes is less harmful than that from cigarettes is wrong. The opposite is the case. The World Health Organization had pointed out that the smoke inhaled from a water pipe session corresponds to the smoke volume of 100 cigarettes. Critics point out, however, that this says nothing about the harmfulness of hookah smoke and that a hookah smoker also smokes significantly less than a cigarette smoker.

The tobacco is not burned directly in the water pipe, but heated at low temperatures with the help of the water pipe charcoal. When the coal is burned, the invisible and highly toxic carbon monoxide is produced. The business with tobacco for hookahs is flourishing; in addition to the state-registered amount, there is likely to be a considerable number of unreported smuggled, untaxed tobacco, of which the customs repeatedly seize larger amounts. (dpa)

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