Friday, 7 August 2015

SHISHA: AFRICA'S UNTAMED THREAT


Jenny is jolly young girl, about 20 years of age. She is naïve but with a league of friends allover school. Most of the students in school know her for unfading smile. She seems humble even in her jumpy mood. She has been a good girl for a long time. Of late, she is under intense pressure to adopt a new lifestyle because of her new set of “cool” friends. Their hobbies are a little out of her “daddy’s girl” book, they have less interest in academic work but are all about having a good time.

Unlike her usual weekend program of spending time with family, they prefer to meet up and spend time out in bars at night blasting away their money on several drinks and smoking Shisha. She admires their lifestyle and feels it is a more fan life. Soon she starts escaping from home to join in on the fun of smoking all night long with no worries of all her father’s rules clouding over her head.

The new life seems far better than her old “boring” life. Most students esteem her clique as the famous girls who throw the lavish parties. All seems well until her grades start falling and she finds herself in constant need of tobacco so as to concentrate in class or on any assignment. What started out as a smoking experiment has now become a craving that drives her to escape from home on several days in the week to get a taste of tobacco in her body. “I feel a mess,” she confesses with teary eyes.
Young people enjoying a shisha session

Like Jenny, several youth today use shisha often because of its trending and fancy culture. Unfortunately, few of them understand the contents it is composed of.





History of Shisha
Using shisha has been a long sustained custom  among natives of  countries of the middle east like Turkey and India for over 500 years, though it has now spread all over the world. It has various flavors including apple, plum and coconut which make it irresistible not only for the teenagers but for many adults as well. It is also commonly known as goza or hookah in many parts of the world.

How it is made
Pieces of charcoal are placed on top of tobacco, usually separated by an aluminum foil. The smoke generated then bubbles through cooled water in the bowl into the hose and finally to the mouthpiece where it is inhaled and shared among a group of people.


What are the risks?
Contrary to popular beliefs, shisha is more harmful than cigarettes. It contains large amounts of nicotine, 36 times more tar and 15 times more carbon monoxide and heavy metals like lead and nickel generated from the heat sources.The World Health Organization estimates that hookah users may inhale as much smoke during one hookah session, as a cigarette smoker would inhale by consuming 100 or more cigarettes!
Smoking shisha requires longer drags, this drastically increases the amounts of carcinogens inhaled, which escalates the risk of getting lung cancer and heart disease. It also exposes users to infectious diseases like tuberculosis, oral herpes and hepatitis because a mouth piece is constantly shared among numerous people, who in some cases may be strangers who have just met in a bar or club.

What to do it about it?
Shisha consumption is becoming a major challenge because of the many myths portraying it as harmless well scented recreational drug. This propaganda is largely spread by people who sell shisha who in most cases want to increase sells. The tobacco industry manipulates the public by investing in extensive advertisement in the media through music videos and other platforms to attract the youth into a trap of linking Shisha to fancy role models (artists) and lifestyles in order to prompt constant usage. The best way forward is demystifying all the myth surrounding shisha use and sharing it with as many people as possible.

Popular Hip pop icon Drake smoking hookah




Recently the Members of Parliament in Uganda abolished the use of shisha, this shows a growing concern that shisha is posing as viable threat to the general population. In addition, the Tobacco control bill has also been passed to reduce the consumption of tobacco. With these efforts in place, provided the legislators follow through with the guidelines to regulate the use of tobacco, then we could have a dependable solution to one of the greatest threats our youthful generation is faced with.

(Image credit to www.archived.thisisafrica.me, www.globalgrind.com and www.suggestkeyword.com)

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