Tobacco use has emerged as a serious health challenge in Pakistan that now stands among the top four countries of the world with the rapid increase in the tobacco market.
According to experts, tobacco kills nearly six million people each year in the world, of which more than 600,000 are dying from passive smoking. In Pakistan, an estimated 40 percent males and nine percent of females are smokers and the number is increasing day by day. The Pakistan Pediatrics Association has estimated that 1,000 to 1,200 school-going children in the age group of 6 to 16 years take up smoking every day in the country.
Since shisha smoking is been penetrating rapidly in Pakistani social circles and been termed as safe tobacco. Boredom in youth, use of water pipe in leisure activities and peer pressure are identified as the most common reasons for the escalating popularity of waterpipe smoking in Pakistan. The reasons for this rising trend are certain misconceptions that water pipe smoking is not harmful to health. The knowledge of people, particularly youth regarding the hazards of habitual shisha smoking is alarmingly low and the majority considers the practice to be safer than cigarette smoking.
It has become a fashion and snobbery among our youngsters. It has become a status symbol in our society. Our youngsters take it as a fashion, stress reliever and later they become addicted to it. Shisha smoking is highly prevalent among urban university students in Pakistan.
Shisha is also known as Hookah, Water pipe, and flavored smoking. It is a popular trend among youngsters in Pakistan and it is a cause of serious health hazards. Many youngsters of school and colleges are going to hang at shisha centres in Pakistan. They think that it is just a flavored smoking but they do not know the reality of shisha it cause many serious diseases. It contains tobacco, molasses’s, fruit odors and tobacco tar and nicotine, which is used to create the natural smell of fruits and tobacco. In Asia, it is common in the Pakistan, India, China, and Bangladesh and Arab countries.
The social hazards of shisha may affect personal life, family, and friends. These may reduce working ability and performance. It also causes many epidemics and infectious disease due to pipe sharing. Previously in Pakistan old man and women in villages were smoking hookah and cigarettes, but now this trend is rapidly grown up in many big cities of Pakistan. shisha contains many metals that are unhealthy for a body such as cobalt, lead, chromium etc. There is an estimation that a normal pipe of shesha is equal to 20 cigarettes it means that shisha is 20 times more dangerous than a cigarette. There is an estimation that shisha smoking of one hour is equal to 60 cigarettes because it contains carbon monoxide, which is very injurious to the health. shisha not only cause the above-mentioned disease it also cause cancer of the mouth and bladder cancer. The exhaled air from the shesha smoker also causes disease in the nearby persons. Therefore, there is a dire need to educate the people about the unhealthy and dangerous effects of the shisha.
The government should rapidly come forward to educate the people about the harmful effects of the shisha because this is the only way by which we can make our young generation safe from this poisonous thing. It is the duty of the government to ban shisha restaurants/café.
In Pakistan World Health Organization (WHO) is contributing through high-level strategic advocacy in support of smoke-free policies, providing technical support in the process of drafting tobacco control legislation, advocating for raising tobacco taxes to reduce demand; high-level advocacy in support of strengthening restrictions on tobacco advertising.
Shisha smoking should be included in the existing anti-tobacco campaigns in the country. Lack of action would nurture the already growing practice and might lead it to set firm roots in our society