Initially printed in Pakistan Today , DAWN (edited) and as letter in Friday Times
Original post:-

Think of the most popular trends in youth nowadays and the first thing that pops up in your mind is undoubtedly Shisha, also referred to as hubble bubble or water pipe. It emerged as a style icon in the elite circles in the beginning but within a short span of just a few years, Shisha’s fan club covered people from nearly all the groups of society. The most enthusiastic of these were of course young people. The recent attempts of the Punjab Government to put a check on this fast growing fast growing Shisha culture has led to many debates and question marks- the most important of which is that when the consumption of cigarettes and other drugs remains unchecked then what’s this hype over Shisha?

The answer is simple: social acceptance. Where people may refrain from trying cigarettes and other drugs due to the conspicuous black label, the seemingly innocent ‘fruity’ hubble bubble appears quite a harmless choice. The crux of the matter lies in the comparative analysis between the availability of a certain addictive product verses the flaring ‘culture’ of another.  Cigarettes may be an optional choice for a certain few but Shisha serves as the must-try hot sport for nearly everyone.  For many it is a hobby, a favorite past time with buddies, a means of being up-to-date with the latest trends or simple leisure puffing just because others are doing it. In addition, its usage isn’t confined to Shisha bars only but is also stretching roots in educational premises as well. It isn’t rare to find students using their own water pipes in university corners and hostels. On the whole, the concluding fact is that due to the non-reactive social sensitivity (also sensibility) towards Shisha consumption, it became a strong culture rather than individual dark habits like drug or cigarette addition.

Also a worth mentioning fact here is that under the cover of Shisha tradition, many other drugs were being paved in too. Many bars have been reported to serve Shisha mixed with illegal drugs like heroine, hashish etc. Also at many Shisha spots, it is also available with wine in the filtering base instead of water. So a casual hookah hobby may end up in helpless addiction of even more destructive products.

With the hovering news of Punjab Government’s consideration for an altogether complete ban on shisha, many willing investors feel discouraged to step in the previously blooming shisha business (Why risk money when future circumstances are uncertain?). Of course a 100% ban on anything cannot be deemed possible but even a few effective measures here by government can lead to a relatively large potential drop in the Shisha market.

When we talk about banning something, it will be pretty overconfident of us to ignore its twin-black market. Now it is upon the policy devisors that how intelligently they tackle this. Like many people are of the view that instead of declaring a complete ban, minor initiatives like strict action against serving it to underage teens, heavy taxation (which in turn renders Shisha less affordable), official checks and certain restrictions on Shisha bars etc will act as more smarter tools for this cause. Whatever the case maybe, formulating a serious strategy and then properly enforcing it for offsetting the gripping Shisha culture is the imperative need of the hour.

P.S: Click here to read a response to this letter in dawn.


17 thoughts on “Pulling reins of the Shisha culture

  1. Allow me to tell you that as a physician in Saudi Arabia since more than 10 years, this innocent fruity hubbly bubbly shisha is not that innocent. This fruity taste could cost your lung and 5 years of your life. Because it contain corrosive irritant…I have seen many patients developing excessive cough with slight difficulty in breathing after 5-10 years of shisha habit. It is said that Shisha is more hazardous than cigarette smoking. Initially I was amazed to find out this fact but one day I visited a cafe and smoke a Shisha. It was a nice experience and taste was superb and i felt relieved but i felt slight irritation in my throat and in the night at the time of sleep I had a bout of coughing.
    There is a second aspect of having new trends.I believe at this time of our down fall, we as a nation need to have an eye on new trends and traditions. I believe at this time we are incapable of adopting new healthy trends. I can understand the frustration but please be careful following the crowd in country like Pakistan.

    • @Dr Jawwad, thank you for your detailed view point as a physician. And I totally agree with your opinion that we should be cautious while blindly following new trends and traditions.

  2. Shisha seems to be harmless and provides an chance for people to socialize. It also helps people to get busy with it instead of smoking cigarettes or drugs. I think what is needed is that laws are made for people us use it as a vehicle for drugs and alcohol, that includes the establishment instead of the innocent majority who use it for the right reasons. Like the photos.

  3. Okay, I read Dr. Jawwad’s comment, seems legitimate and based on scientific facts . Sorry to retract my earlier comment. If it’s something that will harm the health of another individual especially the younger crowd that I’m not favor for it. but in the end a choice needs to be made. its freedom of choice , only with health consequences. great post. makes you really think.

  4. sheesha isn’t that new a trend… is it also not known as the hooka? i remember being in pakistan many many years ago as a young girl and watched elderly woman smoke this. recently in karachi when my aunt came to visit from the village she brought hers with her… and appeared quite addicted to it..

  5. Pingback: Pulling reins of the Shisha culture | Tea Break

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