Sheesha is the latest fashion amongst the youth and it has gained enormous popularity in Pakistan. It was pretty rare to find a place that offers Sheesha few years back but the picture has changed dramatically.

Pakistan is a nation with majority of its population based on youth and it is quite depressing to understand that the activity is more common amongst youth. With the mixture of tobacco and smoke, Sheesha belongs to the same family as cigarette.

Use of Sheesha might be new for youth but its history is as old as the late 15th century. A Persian physician Abu’l-Fath Gilani is known to be the first man who experienced it for the first time. It was known as ’Hookah’ back then.  The gurgling Sheesha sound produced by inhaling the Sheesha was heard at the court of Mughal Emperor, Akbar for the first time.

Abu’l-Fath Gilani “first passed the smoke of tobacco through a small bowl of water to purify and cool the smoke and thus invented the hubble-bubble or hookah.” Sheesha became the part of Arab world and slowly made its way into their culture and traditions.

Hookah is not new in Pakistan as traditionally it had been used in the rural areas since decades. The main difference between a Hookah and a Sheesha is the flavoured tobacco that spreads a fresh aroma during a Sheesha session. Last few years has seen enormous increase in the use of Sheesha especially amongst youth all over the world.

Sheesha gained so much popularity in Pakistan that first it was made available in restaurants and hotels but later on dedicated Sheesha bars were formed. Pakistan is a country where the female majority does not smoke cigarettes openly. However, there is no hesitation to smoke Sheesha as whole of the new generation is fascinated by the sessions.

The 2002 law enforced in Pakistan prohibits smoking cigarettes at public places and same law bans the under 18 to smoke Sheesha. Cafe owners have stated that selling Sheesha in the inflated market really help them in maintaining a healthy profit.

There is a myth attached to smoking Sheesha that it is less harmful than cigarette as the tobacco is filtered through water. Doctor Touseef at a local hospital in Lahore explains that, “Smoking Sheesha is as harmful as smoking cigarette, probably even more.” Medical professional at Mayo Clinic, Dr. Richard shares the same thoughts about the harmfulness of Sheesha.

A typical Sheesha session consists of 50 to 200 inhales and lasts about 30 minutes. Each inhale contains 0.15 to 0.50 litres of smoke. It has been proved that one hour Sheesha session amount of smoke inhaled by user is 100 to 200 times more than of a single cigarette.  During a 45 minute Sheesha session, user inhales 1.7 times the nicotine present in a single cigarette.

There is a complete ban on serving Sheesha in Defence Housing Authority, Lahore but it is easily available in other parts of the city. There are numerous Sheesha bars currently operating alone at the M.M. Alam Road, Lahore. The need is to enforce a complete ban in order to save the society from the curse of Sheesha.