Mark speaks up about Shisha in Parliament

(July 20, 2011)

Mark spoke during the Summer Adjournment debate on Tuesday 19th July 2011 about the health effects of Shisha Smoking following an Early Day Motion (EDM) tabled earlier this month about this issue. 

Mr Hendrick outlined some of the health risks and concerns associated with the practice of shisha smoking which is becoming increasing popular in homes and shisha cafe’s across the UK.  He said: ‘I have seen evidence of this in my own constituency of Preston, and it is particularly true of young people from ethnic minority Asian communities, as shisha smoking is seen as a legitimate social activity compared with drinking alcohol. This is creating a number of issues for both the Government and local authorities. Chief among them is how best to educate smokers about the health risks associated with shisha.’

Shisha is the process of smoking tobacco through an ornate water pipe. Tobacco is mixed with fruit or syrup and then wrapped in aluminium foil before being heated by charcoal.  The smoker then uses a pipe to breathe in, forcing the smoke through the water, producing bubbles, before it is inhaled.  It is a common pastime in parts of Asia and Africa, where it dates back around four centuries, however it is gaining popularity in this country amongst students and Asian young people.

Mark went on to say: There are a number of myths surrounding shisha, the most prevalent of which is the belief that it is either not a danger to your health, or much less serious than smoking cigarettes  Shisha smokers expose themselves to nicotine, carbon monoxide, heavy metals and other cancer-causing chemicals, and they do so in much greater quantities than those smoking a cigarette.   The health dangers associated with smoking tobacco are now well established.

How can we effectively regulate shisha cafes and bars to ensure that they comply with the Health Act 2006? How can we ensure that safety is maintained and risks minimised? We need to do more to dispel the dangerous myths out their relating to shisha smoking. Today I call upon the Government to instigate a nation-wide campaign, to talk about the dangers of this type of smoking.

Paul Burstow, The Minister of Health responded:  ‘I should like to start by responding to the hon. Member for Preston, who talked about the impact of shisha water pipes.  I entirely agree with his comments about the need to dispel the myths surrounding them.  The flavours might hide it, but they can still kill people. Water pipe use might actually increase exposure to carcinogens by smokers and those exposed to second-hand smoke. The evidence is clear that water pipe usage can increase the risk of cancers of the lung, mouth and bladder. It is also associated with markers of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and an increased risk of mouth and gum disease.’

He went on to add;  ‘We believe that, as local authorities take on their new public health responsibilities over the next few years in conjunction with Public Health England, they will be well placed to improve awareness of the risks of these practices.’

The full text of the speech can be read here.


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