Sunday, 7 October 2012

Shisha, the next target for the anti-fun brigade

At its next Council meeting, Bradford Councillors will discuss the scourge of shisha smoking. In a time of austerity, when the Council is cutting services and too many people don't have jobs we're discussing how to shut down a few more businesses and spoil a few more folk's pleasure. But then the motion is from Respect - who seem to have appointed themselves moral guardians of the Asian communities in Bradford! 

I was therefore struck by the Pub Curmudgeon's spot of a similar campaign under way in Manchester:

Traders and  councillors say curry houses are now struggling to compete with the shisha bars and fear it could be the end for the Curry Mile.

They say some of the shisha bars are allowing customers to flout the smoking ban and illegally smoke shisha indoors.

Under the law, the shisha bars are meant to restrict customers to smoking outside, often on a terrace.

Manchester council is  now launching a campaign to crack down on people who flout the smoking ban at shisha bars, and to highlight the health risks of smoking shisha.

And doubtless the main element of the campaign will be this particular lie:

Yes folks this claim - from Bradford NHS - is simply not true. Nor is the claim in our Respect motion that:

...according to the WHO, an hour of smoking shisha for one hour is equivalent to smoking 200 times the volume of smoke in one cigarette.

 There are variations on this story depending on how many times it has been tweaked and adjusted from the original WHO report. And it's still not true:

...studies led by independent researchers at the Royal University of Saudi Arabia have shown that shisha smoke is 30 times less concentrated in chemicals than cigarette smoke, contradicting the WHO's warnings. "It is ludicrous and anti-scientific to claim that hookah or shisha smoke is 200 times more toxic than cigarette smoke," he says. "While about 5,000 chemicals have been identified so far in cigarette smoke, chemists and pharmacologists from Saudi Arabia only found 142 chemicals in shisha smoke. Also, a medical team in Pakistan found that shisha smoke can be much less carcinogenic and radioactive than cigarette smoke."

So shisha is a lot less of a problem than smoking cigarettes. This isn't to say that shisha is harmless just that it is a whole lot less harmful than smoking cigarettes. But that doesn't stop the prohibitionists (as the poster above shows) - despite little or no evidence at all for their claim this is the conclusion:

"The research on shisha is admittedly limited," concedes Anis. "But I have to concur with the WHO. If you watch the way people smoke shisha, they take deliberate, deep breaths before exhaling so there is a lot of smoke being inhaled."

Which rather begs a big question. Surely it's what the smoke contains that the issue rather than how much? The truth is that Dr Anis and the other prohibitionists just don't approve. These people are getting pleasure without purpose, they don't care about their health, they must be stopped!



handymanphil said...

Get you7rselves over to for all the latest news on the shisha front. The World health Organisation have already spun a web full of lies about shisha/hookah smoking-but it simply doesn't stand up to any form of scrutiny!

Curmudgeon said...

Ta for the mention. From the outside, it seems rather odd that Respect should be doing something that will potentially alienate their "own" community.

Lysistrata said...

Lovely photo, Simon. Bradford's shisha bars had become a great and safe meeting place for young modern British asians (and their non-asian friends) - much as our well-loved pubs were community meeting places.
'Respect' are a very strange political party and it's not easy to pigeonhole them. Personally I don't like Galloway. Conservative Muslims would disapprove of smoking, of course, as would conservative Baptists, but I have no idea where they are coming from on this one.
Simon, I gather there are probably few if any shisha bars in the Cullingworth ward - although you might surprise me! - but surely some of your party colleagues will have them in their wards? I'm sure the business owners would have something to say about this?

Curmudgeon said...

More news here on the Shisha issue in Rusholme, Manchester.