Know the Facts

Supporting people to change their behaviours for health reasons can be really challenging. An important starting point is to equip yourself with the facts. You can then pass these on to the clients and communities you work with and help them in their journey to saying “No Thanks” to shisha smoking.

What do you know about Shisha? Let’s start with some basics.

The Head
Tobacco is heated in the head and smoke is drawn into the device.
The Body
The smoke is drawn down through the body towards the bowl
The Bowl
The smoke then enters the bowl and bubbles up through the water before being drawn out of the chamber into the hose.
The Hose
The smoke is then drawn out of the body, up through the hose and into the lungs of the smoker.
How does a Shisha work?
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What is shisha?

A shisha is a smoking device. It is made up of four parts – the body, head, bowl and hose. 

It is also known by many other names – argileh, nargila, waterpipe, hookah.

Tobacco is heated at the top to produce smoke. The smoker breathes in through the mouthpiece in the hose, drawing smoke from the head, down through the body, through the water and into the mouth. Follow the animation above to see how it all works.

What is in shisha?

Shisha is usually a combination of tobacco prepared in molasses (a sticky paste) and sweetened with fruit and other flavours. Shisha smoke contains large amounts of nicotine, carbon monoxide, nitric oxide, tar and other toxins.

Who smokes shisha?

Shisha smoking has a long history in parts of the world including the Middle East, Asia and Africa. It has a strong cultural tradition for many communities.

Shisha is usually smoked in a family or social setting, often taking place in the backyard after a meal, during family gatherings, at outings, or at cafés.

Since the introduction of flavoured tobacco in the early 1990s, shisha smoking has now become increasingly popular amongst young people. Shisha is now widely smoked in many parts of the world, including in Australia.

What are the health impacts?

There is a lot of confusion about the harms of smoking shisha and how it compares to smoking other forms of tobacco.

Many young people are not aware of the harms of shisha smoking, believing it to be a healthy option.

Many people smoke shisha with family members in the presence of children. Most people are unaware of the harms associated with passive (second-hand) shisha smoking.

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Which of the following health risks are associated with shisha smoking?