Updated: Monday, 24th September 2018 @ 5:48am

Hookah, Qalyān and Shisha: Nearly 70% of Manchester residents are unaware of smoking health dangers

Hookah, Qalyān and Shisha: Nearly 70% of Manchester residents are unaware of smoking health dangers

By Gareth Westmorland

Ever since I moved to Manchester in February I couldn’t help but notice the overpowering scent pouring out of certain shops in Rusholme, where I happen to live.

It wasn’t a normal smell, not a restaurant, bar or even a perfume shop (yes ladies, us men smell that too).

I looked up at the sign, and written on it was ‘Shisha Cafe’. Now that to me means some nice grub and a cracking coffee to compliment in a cafe called ‘Shisha’.

But no, this ‘cafe’ was different. I peered inside as long as I could without scaring the customers, and they were inhaling these huge, stupendous Aladdin-prop lookalike bongs.

First thought: Why are they smoking inside a cafe?

Second thought: What on earth is that smell?

And after seeing Manchester City bad-boy Mario Balotelli plastered across the papers smoking the exact same things, it struck me as if the image would glamorise this ‘craze’.

It wasn’t the first time Super Mario’s allegedly been involved with a ‘hookah’.

PRE-SEASON TRAINING: Balotelli indulges in Shisha smoking

Now, I have never, ever lit, held or smoked a cigarette in my life, but my imagination was running wild. A whole humdinger of flavours: apple, strawberry, vanilla, Irn Bru – everything.

They say everyone tries something once. We all remember our first beer – legal and underage, and our first taste of sprouts one Christmas Dinner (which I still detest to this day).

But this Shisha craze which has swept not just Manchester, but the whole of the UK, has not tempted me one bit, despite the brilliance of the concept.

The number of cafes offering shisha tobacco pipes has risen 210% since the smoking ban came into force, according to a Freedom of Information request by the British Heart Foundation.

Shisha bars are bound by the 2007 indoor smoking ban and can only operate if there is at least 50 per cent aeration in the vicinity.

The Greater Manchester Police (GMP) have confiscated illegal tobacco from certain shisha bars.

Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar  expressed concerns about the cumulative effect that shisha bars are having on the area.

“Although, I am not against shisha bars because they are part of Middle Eastern culture, I feel they should not be allowed to break the law,” Mr Akbar said.

“The visitors to these premises must be fully aware of the health consequences of shisha smoking so that they can make an informed choice.”

And Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the BHF, warned users of the niche smoking craze to be wary about the health risks.

"Contrary to popular belief, shisha is not safer than smoking cigarettes,” Dr Knapton said.

"Don't be duped by the sweet smell and wholesome-sounding fruity flavours – if you use shisha, you are a smoker and that means you're putting your health at risk.”

It has been reported that in a single shisha session, smokers inhale up-to 200 times more smoke than from a cigarette.

A massive 30 new shisha bars have opened their doors in Rusholme in the last two years.

The Department of Health said that one session of smoking shisha resulted in carbon monoxide levels at least four to five times higher than the amount produced by one cigarette.

And a recent Mancunian Matters Piccadilly Pulse produced some shocking results.

In answering the question “Are you aware of the health implications of smoking Shisha”, 70% of those questioned were not aware of the risks.

And after telling them the facts provided by the British Heart Foundation and the Department of Health, the exact same percentage, 70%, said they would think twice about smoking shisha.

But shockingly, 30% of those questioned said that despite knowing the facts, they wouldn’t make a difference to their choice of smoking cigarettes.

It seems that this craze will not cease anytime soon, but hopefully more people are aware of the facts of this so-called ‘fashion’ smoking.

To help you quit smoking, you can call the NHS Smoking Helpline on 0800 022 4 332, or visit http://smokefree.nhs.uk

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