Shisha smoking on the increase in Birmingham

The NHS in Birmingham is working in partnership with the Local Authority to launch a campaign which lays bare the facts about Shisha smoking.

For the first time a Shisha awareness campaign will be shown in selected Cinemas throughout Birmingham. The campaign will enable people to make an informed decision about smoking Shisha by highlighting the health risks involved.

John Denley, Public Health Consultant for the NHS in Birmingham comments: “‘Shisha’ smoking – or hubble bubble – is becoming increasingly popular in student areas and is seen as an accepted social past time for young people in Birmingham. The tobacco is often sweetened and flavoured; therefore it is easy to understand why many people are under the impression that it is less harmful than smoking traditional cigarettes. The flavourings and sweeteners only disguise the harmful ingredients of tobacco in shisha. Furthermore, the charcoal – and the smoke it gives off- contain additional chemicals and toxins.”

Some of the issues to be addressed include:

  • An increase in the number of Shisha premises in Birmingham; there are approximately 15 known Shisha premises. This has increased from just three since the smoking ban was introduced in July 2007
  • A lack of awareness amongst smokers of the risks to their health and second-hand smoke
  • ‘Herbal shisha’ is seen by some as a safe alternative to shisha; anecdotally the smoke from herbal shisha contains no tobacco however it still contains harmful carbon monoxide and other carcinogenic compounds. Staggeringly, to date no herbal shisha has been found in Birmingham which does not contain tobacco.

“Although still relatively new to the UK, this is an emerging trend in Birmingham which needs tackling urgently” continues John. “This is an issue that other areas such as Tower Hamlets, Leicester, Bradford and Coventry are currently addressing.’

‘’There are many misconceptions about shisha which lead people to believe that it is a healthier alternative to smoking cigarettes, however it is not. In a recent survey conducted for the British Heart Foundation only 43% of adults knew that Shisha contained cigarette tobacco.

‘The bubbling water also creates the illusion that the smoke is being purified and cleaned. In reality the bubbling water does not filter out all the toxins; the fruity smoke contains cancer causing chemicals and it is not a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes. It can lead to nicotine addiction and seriously damage your health. “

Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Steve Bedser, said: “We’re working closely with NHS partners to highlight the health risks and many of the myths surrounding Shisha smoking. As a city council we are also looking at what we can do to regulate and control Shisha cafes.

“This is incredibly harmful to people’s health. It is a shocking fact that smoking a Shisha pipe for just one hour is equal to smoking 100 cigarettes. So we need to raise awareness now.”

Media enquiries: Anna Donaldson, T: 07595 088316 e: anna.donaldson@nhs.net

Launch details :

  • Where : Vue Cinema, Star City, Birmingham B7 5SA
  • When: Monday 28th May, 10.00 am.
  • We look forward to seeing you there.

Editor’s notes

The Birmingham and Solihull NHS Cluster comprises Heart of Birmingham Teaching Primary Care Trust, NHS South Birmingham, NHS Birmingham East and North, and Solihull Primary Care Trust.

The cluster has been entrusted by each of the four PCTs to lead the local NHS, receiving over £2.3 billion per year to commission and provide health care for 1.2 million people across the city and borough. Our vision is to strengthen commissioning, improve quality and assure safety, tackle health inequalities and make best use of precious NHS resources.

While PCTs will retain their Boards and statutory responsibilities, the cluster has appointed a single Chief Executive – Denise McLellan, who is the accountable officer for all four PCTs. Denise is supported by an Executive Team which comprises four directors, each of whom is leading on a specific areas of business and transformation.

The NHS faces unprecedented challenges in the years ahead. People are living longer, but with greater health and social care needs. People’s health prospects and expectations are improving, but through expensive drugs and technology that place an additional burden on our limited resources. Coming together in this way provides the best opportunity to tackle the challenges ahead and create a financially sustainable legacy for our clinical commissioning colleagues to whom we handover the role of commissioning in 2013. We have set out how we will do this in our blueprint for health and care across Birmingham and Solihull – the System Plan.

Until then, we will be uniting with patients, clinicians and a wide range of diverse organisations across the region to help us get the best in care and quality of life for all.

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