Research also finds which UK cities are seeing a surge in shisha bars – experts warn UK public about the health risks

There has been a 180% increase in Shisha bars over the past decade. Councils reported a total of 187 shisha bars in 2012 which has skyrocketed to 514 in 2022 across the UK.

Coventry was found to have the largest increase of Shisha bars across all councils over the past 10 years, with a sevenfold rise. Similarly, the number of shisha bars in Milton Keynes and Peterborough quadrupled over the same time period.

Reading, Swindon, and Nottingham councils all reported shisha bars increasing over the last decade as well as from 2021 to 2022.

The findings, collated by vape pod retailer Vape Club, come from a freedom of information request to local borough councils. The data from 349 councils reveals the increase in the number of Shisha bars over the past year and the past decade.

As shisha bars become more commonplace in UK towns and cities, the public is warned about the dangers of shisha, or hookah, smoking. What can seem like a harmless activity with friends can lead to heart disease, cancer, and even carbon monoxide poisoning.

Cases of ‘hookah sickness’ have been reported by users, which in some cases have been identified as carbon monoxide poisoning. In a 2020 study* of active or passive shisha smokers, the most common symptoms were dizziness, headaches, and nausea. Loss of consciousness occurred in 43.6% of patients.

Dan Marchant, director of Vape Club, says: 

“Smoking shisha can be tempting as a sociable pastime with friends and family. However, The American Heart Association states that inhaling tobacco via waterpipes, for just half an hour, causes users to take in more carbon monoxide than smoking a cigarette.

“The association also found that inhaling shisha for up to an hour can expose users to around 200 times the amount of smoke they would inhale from a cigarette.“

Dr. Kenneth D. Ward, director of the Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Memphis School of Public Health, says:**

“Hookah delivers fairly high doses of nicotine but very high doses of carbon monoxide. ‘Hookah sickness’ is carbon monoxide intoxication. Symptoms of ‘hookah sickness’ can begin at around 20 parts per million of carbon monoxide, so it’s not surprising that so many users seem to experience it.”

According to the NHS, shisha smoke contains cancer-causing chemicals and toxic gases such as carbon monoxide.

Like cigarette smoking, these toxins from tobacco-based shisha puts smokers at risk of developing:

  • Heart and circulatory diseases
  • Cancers
  • Respiratory infections and conditions

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