Waterpipe Smoking

Waterpipe Smoking (Hookah)

What is Waterpipe Smoking?

Waterpipe smoking, also known as hookah, narghile and shisha, dates back several centuries. Its origin is traced to India and also to South Africa, Persia and Ethiopa.

Using a waterpipe involves smoking products known as “shisha.” Traditional tobacco shisha is a mixture of tobacco, glycerin and/or honey with varying amounts of nicotine. Shisha is also available without tobacco and the non-tobacco products are often described as “herbal.”



Waterpipe Smoking and Disease

Tobacco smoke from waterpipes has been linked to diseases also known to be associated with cigarette use. Such diseases include;

  • malignancies
  • cardiovascular disease
  • lung diseases
  • pregnancy complications
  • oral or dental complications
  • hematologic disturbances
  • genetic abnormalities

Recent Alberta research has found that even the non-tobacco, or “herbal” shisha products used in waterpipes produce toxic air pollutants – including carbon monoxide, volatile aldehydes and polyaromatic hydrocarbons.

Waterpipe users are at an increased risk of communicable diseases like herpes and meningococcal disease that are transmitted through sharing waterpipe mouthpieces.


Inaccurate Content Labelling

There are no labelling standards for shisha in Canada. Without laboratory analysis, it is difficult to accurately identify all the constituents of these products. As such, consumers are not able to readily assess the contents to know what they are purchasing and consuming.


Banning Public Waterpipe Use In Other Jurisdictions

Quebec, Vancouver and Ottawa have banned indoor public tobacco and non-tobacco waterpipe use.

Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health has recommended that waterpipe use should be prohibited in enclosed public places and workplaces, and within five metres of entrances, windows and air intakes in public venues and workplaces. AHS supports this recommendation. 


(Source: Alberta Quits)