Islamabad - The government has decided to impose a complete ban on commercial use of “Sheesha” to protect the health of country’s youth.

According to an official of the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, after imposing the ban, there would be complete restriction on sale of such tobacco item in cafes and shops in the markets.

He said that there would be complete ban on opening of any sheesha center or cafe in hotels, markets or public places while the its sale would also be banned in bazaars.

He said that the notification in this regard would be issued soon by the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination in accordance with Prohibition of smoking and Protection of Non-Smokers Health Ordinance 2002.

He said the decision was taken to discourage country’s youth to avoid from the unhealthy practice of sheesha smoking that badly affecting their health.

He said that Senate Standing Committee on National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination had also recommended to impose ban on sheesha smoking. 

Using sheesha smoke poses a serious potential health hazard to smokers and others exposed to the smoke emitted, he added.

The second hand smoke from Sheesha poses a serious risk for non-smokers, as it contains smoke not only from the tobacco but also from the heat source.

Dr Wasim Khawaja from Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) said that sheesha was the flavoured tobacco used in smoking process using water pipes.

He added the process of smoking sheesha started when tobacco was soaked on fruits shavings such as apple, grapes and strawberries.

He said that due to the mode of sheesha smoking including frequency of puffing, depth of inhalation, and length of the smoking session, sheesha smokers may absorb higher concentrations of the toxins found in cigarette smoke, increasing the hazard to the body.

He said that the charcoal used to heat tobacco in the sheesha pipes increases the health risks.

Even after it has passed through water, the smoke produced by a sheesha contains high levels of toxic compounds, including carbon monoxide, heavy metals, and cancer-causing chemicals, he added

He said that sheesha tobacco and smoke contain numerous toxic substances known to cause lung, bladder, and oral cancers.

A typical one-hour session of sheesha smoking exposes the user to 100 to 200 times the volume of smoke inhaled from a single cigarette.

Dr Wasim said irritation from exposure to tobacco juices increases the risk of developing oral cancers.

The irritation by tobacco juice products is likely to be greater among sheesha smokers than among pipe or cigar smokers as sheesha smoking is typically practiced more often and for longer periods of time.

He said that sheesha smoking among pregnant mothers is risky to the baby. Babies born to women who smoked one or more water pipes a day during pregnancy have lower birth weights than babies born to non-smokers and are at an increased risk for respiratory diseases. He said that sheesha smoking deliver almost the same amount of nicotine as cigarettes do, leading to nicotine addiction.