UAE: Sharing shisha pipes? Doctors warn of respiratory, other diseases amidst rise in users

Survey finds significant decline in cigarette smoking and a substantial surge in shisha usage over the past 12 months

by

Waheed Abbas

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Published: Sun 9 Jun 2024, 11:40 AM

Last updated: Sun 9 Jun 2024, 10:16 PM

UAE doctors are cautioning residents of potential respiratory and other diseases, citing reports of a substantial surge in shisha usage in the country.

According to a survey by AIR Global's latest research, there has been a significant decline in cigarette smoking and a substantial surge in shisha users over the past 12 months in the UAE and some other countries.


Ronan Barry, chief legal and corporate affairs officer at AIR Global, attributed the rise in shisha usage to people wanting to have "sociable experiences."

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Dr Mais M Mauwfak, a specialist in internal medicine at Thumbay University Hospital in Ajman, warned that there have also been numerous case reports of acute eosinophilic pneumonia in shisha smokers.

She added that shisha increases the risk of respiratory disease for many reasons, including sharing tubes between friends, and dirty sections attached to the mouthpiece might be ingested and inhaled, which could initiate infection in the upper respiratory tract.

"In my practice, many patients presented with pneumonia were shisha smokers rather than cigarette smokers," added Dr Mauwfak.

Dr Mais M Mauwfak
Dr Mais M Mauwfak

Dr Humberto Choi, pulmonologist at Cleveland Clinic, has said that all forms of nicotine, including shisha, cigarettes and vaping, are not safe forms of tobacco use.

The survey's findings revealed that cigarette smoking has decreased by a fifth – nearly 21 per cent, signalling a shift in preferences towards alternative options in the UAE, USA, Germany, Spain, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq.

Advanced Inhalation Rituals (AIR Global) commissioned research with a representative sample of 14,326 adults in six countries.

There was an average of 18.5 per cent new shisha users in 2023 in the UAE and five other countries, reaching 20.8 million.

It said the surge in shisha usage is predicted to drive the industry towards 24.6 million users in 2024, an increase of 18.27 per cent, and 32.3 million shisha users by 2026, an increase of 55.28 per cent.

The global shisha market is valued at $19 billion, and it is projected to expand to $22 billion by 2026.

World Health Organisation figures showed that smoking kills over eight million people globally, which includes 1.3 million passive smokers who are exposed to smokers.

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