Where there’s smoke
- By: Isobel Weinberg
Why do some medical students smoke? After seeing smoking appear in list after list of risk factors for a whole heap of diseases, they certainly can’t plead ignorance. At least, that’s true for cigarettes. But have students grasped the harms of shisha smoking? Alexander Isted’s article on p 10 (doi:10.1136/sbmj.f2327). suggests not. Misconceptions abound: cold water in the shisha pipe filters toxins from the smoke (wrong), shisha is less harmful than cigarettes (wrong), shisha isn’t harmful (definitely wrong). A survey asked young people to guess what the “cigarette equivalent” of an hour’s shisha smoking is. Most guess 10 or fewer cigarettes; the true figure is 50-100.
Shisha and cigarettes are both harmful. The difference is that cigarettes are slowly being edged towards the margins of social acceptability whereas shisha is sliding towards the middle. What’s more, Isted says, because mainstream shisha smoking among the student demographic is a new phenomenon,