Stories about smoking

Busting myths about shisha

There is a common misconception in Pakistan that smoking shisha is not as harmful as smoking cigarettes. This notion exists despite the publication of research conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) which shows that an average pipe smoking session of around an hour is equivalent to smoking up to 200 cigarettes. Cancer, TB and dreary consequences Scientific studies regarding the adverse health consequences of smoking shisha point to dangers that are similar to, if not worse than, those associated with smoking cigarettes. Research conducted on shisha use has clearly shown that it has particularly serious health consequences on the lungs and ...

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‘Shisha is too fun to ban’

A study published in 2008 revealed that there is a link between heavy hookah smoking and incidence of cancer. And yet, the Sindh Assembly’s decision to outlaw the smoking of shisha has been met with much skepticism. Twenty year old Hassan* says: “It is rubbish. They should ban cigarette smoking first!” But will arresting the frequency of cigarette smoking make the ban on shisha more acceptable? “Banning cigarette smoking will show that the government has a clear policy against smoking,” Hassan asserts. “Prohibiting shisha will only affect a small portion of the general population.” The question of acceptability looms like a specter, putting a match ...

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Don’t chew on this

There are many forms of Smokeless Tobacco (ST) available in the Pakistani market, the most common ones being ‘naswar’, ‘gutka’, ‘mainpuri’ and crushed tobacco taken with paan. Harmful effects of using ST include mouth and throat cancer, cancer of the food pipe, cancer of the stomach and pancreas, increased risk of heart attacks, stroke, as well as several gum and tooth diseases. It is a common perception  that smokeless tobacco products are less harmful than cigarettes. The fact is that the type of smokeless tobacco available in Southeast Asia is far more dangerous than smoking. An average dose of nicotine from chewing tobacco ...

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Care for a smoke?

I recently questioned the state’s right to dictate how we treat ourselves. If the majority feedback I got is at all representative (and the recent PG status of the nikahnama would suggest that it is), then we as individuals feel the need to be intensively governed. We feel that the care we take of personal health, or the safety measures we take to maintain it, should be the concern of the state. I would like to extend this argument to smokers. Should the state outlaw smoking? While some safety measures like the seat belt are debatable in their efficiency, smoking ...

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Pakistan in the grips of shisha epidemic

Shisha also known as waterpipe, hubble bubble and hukka is a centuries old habit. Unfortunately in recent years its use has increased all over the world including Pakistan. Previously its use was limited to older people in villages but now it is being promoted in all major cities of Pakistan. Every day new shisha cafes are opening up and our youth is using it without realizing the dangers associated with it. Most five star hotels have opened up shisha corners at their restaurants. Reality check In shisha, tobacco is served to people mixed with certain flavours. Research done in the UK last year ...

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Are Electronic Cigarettes safer then traditional Cigarettes?

At a time when the number of smokers worldwide is at its highest, and antismoking policies are proliferating, the sector for alternative smoking products is in a froth of excitement about the potential to increase its market share and revenues. In recent years several manufacturers, have produced electronic cigarettes (ecigarettes) that are distributed to various countries including Pakistan. Electronic cigarettes look and feel like cigarettes, but do not burn tobacco. Electronic Cigarettes are now being widely advertized in electronic and print media of Pakistan. Many smokers are asking the health professionals about the safety of these new devices. Existing ...

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Controlling the tobacco epidemic in Pakistan

Last week when I entered my clinic I saw a handsome gentleman waiting anxiously for me. His wife sitting beside him looked equally anxious. The couple came to me for a second opinion about the abnormality found on his recently done chest x-ray. Unfortunately, the x-ray appearance was highly suggestive of lung cancer at a very advanced stage. Subsequent biopsy of lung tumour confirmed it to be lung cancer. The patient was an engineer aged 38. I only had shocking news to communicate to this couple that the lung cancer was at a stage that it cannot be cured ...

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