French health report smokes out shisha’s deadly secret

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French health report smokes out shisha’s deadly secret

By Nina Muslim, Staff Reporter GULF NEWS

Dubai: Efforts to ban shisha-smoking in public, included in the UAE draft anti-smoking law, have got a boost from a French report which found one shisha was equivalent to smoking 70 cigarettes.

The French anti-tobacco agency (OFT), citing a national laboratory report, said one session with shisha produced 70 litres of smoke, which had 27 to 102 times the carbon tar of a cigarette, and 15 to 52 times more carbon monoxide, depending on the type of shisha smoked.

Dr Wedad Al Maidoor, head of the Anti-Smoking Committee responsible for drafting the law, told Gulf News that the study confirmed their suspicions.

“It gives a boost to our efforts. We always knew that shisha was dangerous, but we did not know by how much,” she said.

“Shisha is a very new field so there have been very few studies done on it,” other than studies done in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, she added.

Claims rubbished

Shisha, deeply associated with Arabic culture, is popular in the UAE and a draw with tourists. Shisha cafe operators have protested the proposed ban, which will only allow shisha-smoking at home.

They said the ban would adversely affect their business, the tourism industry and the economy. The proposal drew a mixed response from the public.

Dr Wedad said pooh-poohed businesses’ claims, saying the public shisha ban in Sharjah and GCC countries have shown no adverse impact on their economy. “Their economy is growing despite the ban. [In fact] we are behind them in implementing the ban,” she said.

She said the committee was working on an in-depth study on the draft law, requested by the Cabinet, addressed the possible effects of the ban on businesses, tourism industry and economy.

It also addresses increasing taxes and displaying bigger warning signs on tobacco products, limiting advertisements of tobacco products and reducing exposure to tobacco smoke.

Dr Layla Al Marzouqi, cardiologist at Dubai Hospital, hoped the findings would finally nail the health myths surrounding shisha.

“People think it is less dangerous to smoke shisha, because the water is supposed to filter the smoke. But that’s not true,” she said.

Anti-smoking: Draft law nears ratification

The draft law is close to becoming law, with only one step left. It is currently at the Cabinet level, which has to endorse it before going to President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan for ratification.

“After that, the law will pass,” said Dr. Wedad Al Maidoor, head of the Anti-Smoking Committee.

As a signatory to the World Health Organisation Framework Convention of Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC), the UAE is required to pass legislation and implement the minimum requirements agreed upon to reduce access and limit exposure.

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