Tobacco is the single greatest cause of preventable death globally and the cause of premature death. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the annual death toll from the global epidemic of tobacco use could rise to 8 million by 2030.
Myth: Second-hand smoke may bother people, but it isn’t dangerous.
Fact: When you smoke at work, home, a restaurant, in a car, everyone around you breathes in second-hand smoke, which is also known as passive smoking. It is not healthy to breathe any amount of tobacco smoke. Tens of thousands of non-smokers die every year from breathing others’ second-hand smoke.
Myth: An occasional cigarette is no big deal.
Fact: Smoking doesn’t just cause diseases for heavy smokers or long time smokers. Each cigarette you smoke hurts your lungs, your blood vessels, and cells throughout your body. Smoking a few cigarettes a week can cause a heart attack. Cutting back is not enough to protect you. You have to quit entirely.
Myth: Smoking Shisha is healthier than smoking cigarettes.
Fact: Shisha smoke is just as dangerous as cigarette smoke. Cigarette smoke is generated by burning tobacco, while Shisha smoke is produced by heating tobacco in a bowl using charcoal. The end product of both a cigarette and Shisha is the same – a smoke containing carcinogens.
Myth: Smoking Shisha is not as addictive as smoking a cigarette because there is no nicotine.
Fact: Just like regular tobacco, Shisha contains nicotine. In fact, in a 60-minute Shisha session, smokers are exposed to 100 to 200 times the volume of smoke inhaled from a single cigarette.
Myth: Smoking Shisha is associated with minimal long-term health problems compare to cigarettes.
Fact: Smoking Shisha can lead to various cancers, as well as heart and lung disease, much like cigarette smoking. In addition diseases, such as hepatitis, herpes and tuberculosis, can spread when Shisha mouthpieces are shared.
Myth: It’s too late to quit—the damage is already done.
Fact: It’s true that the longer you use tobacco, the more you hurt your body. But at any age, the sooner you quit, the sooner your health can improve. Within 20 minutes after quitting, your body starts to heal. After 2 to 5 years, your risk for stroke is similar to that of a non-smoker. In 10 years, your lung cancer risk is cut in half.
Ms. Subathra Jeyaram, BA, MA, PhD
Bahrain Specialist Hospital