What Is Shisha Smoking?

Find out more about shisha or hookah smoking, and how it differs to smoking cigarettes.

What is shisha smoking?

Shisha smoking, also called narghile, water pipe, hookah or hubble bubble smoking, originates from the Middle East and certain areas of Asia, but has recently become more popular in the UK especially with young people.

It is a way of smoking tobacco through a bowl with a hose or tube joined on. The tube has a mouthpiece that the smoker uses to breath in the smoke.

What’s in shisha?

Shisha usually contains tobacco which is sometimes mixed with fruit or molasses sugar. Popular flavours include apple, strawberry, mint and cola. Wood, coal or charcoal is burned in the shisha pipe to heat the tobacco and create the smoke.

What are the risks?

Shisha often contains the same type of tobacco as you get in cigarettes. This means shisha smokers are at risk of developing the same health problems as cigarette smokers, such as cancer and heart disease.

Because Shisha can contain nicotine (the addictive ingredient in cigarettes) you can become addicted to smoking shisha.

A World Health Organisation study has suggested that a one hour session of smoking shisha can be the same as smoking 100 or more cigarettes.

Shisha and the law in Scotland

Shisha smoking produces second-hand smoke so is covered by Scotland’s smoke-free law which doesn’t allow smoking in enclosed public spaces.

Even shisha products which do not contain tobacco must comply with the smoke-free law because it applies to any lit, smoked product.

Get more info

Check out Fast Forward and ASH Scotland's information about Shisha smoking.

If you use Shisha and want to get help to stop smoking then check out Smokeline’s website.

Head back to the Choices for Life campaign page.