History
of shisha

Shisha’s unique culture and history span many centuries and continents and are uniting features of diverse communities around the world.

Enjoying shisha has been a fixture of social and cultural activity since its first appearance in India in the 16th century. The tradition evolved from 17th century Persia to 18th century Turkey to 19th century Egypt and Pakistan, spreading to Western Europe and the United States as the world became more connected and migrants brought their cultures to new homes.

Today, enjoying shisha together remains a symbol of respect, hospitality, and social engagement in many communities.

History of Shisha

Shisha

Science

Al Fakher leads the shisha sector in carrying out scientific studies to help interested parties understand our products.

Shisha is not without risk but an evidence-based assessment of our products in their own right is important.

Assumptions based on experiences with other tobacco and nicotine products – all of which are very different from shisha in their composition and use – lead to wrong conclusions.

We carry out scientific studies and analyses into our products.

Find Out more

Follow the Link for key studies, topics and reports.

Comparison of the concentrations of nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide found in shisha aerosol vs cigarette smoke.

Comparison of the levels of known harmful compounds in tobacco smoke (also known as Hoffman Analytes) between shisha aerosol and cigarette smoke.

A laboratory review of a popular heat management device.

Comparison of the concentrations of nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide found shisha aerosol vs cigarette smoke

science of shisha

KEY CONCLUSIONS

  • Shisha aerosol is fundamentally different from tobacco smoke. Shisha aerosol from the tested Al Fakher shisha is made up of 75% water (60%) and glycerol (15%)
  • Cigarette smoke consists of 75% nicotine, carbon monoxide and tar
  • Shisha tobacco is heated to around 190C rather than burned or combusted.
  • Shisha aerosol from Al Fakher’s Double Apple with Mint is 0.12% nicotine vs cigarette smoke which contains 2.61% nicotine.
  • The claim that one shisha session equals 100 or 200 cigarettes is wrong
  • Cigarette smoke and shisha are very different and examined further in part 2

Comparison of the levels of known harmful compounds in tobacco smoke (also known as Hoffman Analytes) between shisha aerosol and cigarette smoke.

science of shisha

KEY CONCLUSIONS

  • Twenty-nine harmful compounds found in cigarette smoke (also known as Hoffman analytes) were not detected in shisha aerosol. [Three Hoffmann analytes – nicotine, NFDPM and CO – were assessed in Part 1].
  • Of the 12 remaining Hoffmann analytes that were detected, they were found at substantially lower concentrations in shisha aerosol compared to cigarette smoke.
  • Taking consumption patterns into account (based on Germany’s BfR estimate for consumption frequency for Germany), there is a greater than 85% reduction in tested chemicals produced from Al Fakher shisha aerosol compared to cigarette smoke.
  • This is not to suggest definitive conclusions about the relative risks of shisha compared to other products. Its purpose is to underline that the right approach is for shisha use to be assessed in and of itself and in its own context, rather than making blind assumptions based on other tobacco products

carbon Monoxide Yields

methodology

Laboratory:

ASL Analytic Service Laboratory GmbH

Smoking regime:

ISO 22486 (recommended by the International Standards Organisation)

Smoking Machine:

Borgwaldt Shisha Smoker

Charcoal:

Cocobrico coconut shell charcoal

Analysis of Carbon Monoxide levels in the aerosol of shisha heated by charcoal over foil and shisha heated with charcoal placed on a the “Kaloud Lotus” heat management device

science of shisha

Figure 1.0: Carbon monoxide yields charcoal and charcoal plus “Kaloud Lotus” heating device set at 100% and 0% ventilation (according to ISO 22486).

science of shisha
science of shisha

Figure 2.0: “Kaloud Lotus” heat management device demonstrating position of the bottom ventilation holes (left) and the shisha head (right) used with the Borgwaldt smoking machine

Conclusion

  • In this study the use of the “Kaloud Lotus” heat management device significantly reduced carbon monoxide yields under machine smoking conditions compared to the use of a conventional shisha-head covered with aluminium foil (see Figure 1.0). The shisha product used in the test was Al Fakher’s Double Apple.
  • The “Kaloud Lotus” heat management device contains an adjustable ventilation mechanism which when twisted can open or close ventilation holes within the device to allow more or less airflow.
  • The different degrees of ventilation hole closure appeared to have a relatively minor impact on carbon monoxide yields and the reduction in CO yields from the use of the device at any setting was significant.
Composition
and use

Shisha molasses typically contain between 15% and 25% tobacco. The remainder is comprised of molasses, glycerine and flavour.

Shisha molasses are heated, not burned. An external heating element – charcoal – is placed over a bowl which contain the molasses. Typically, the shisha molasses are heated to around 190C, releasing an aerosol that is 60% water, 15% glycerol and 25% dry particulate matter which includes flavour and nicotine.

See Al Fakher Science for further details

Shisha use is typically occasional. It takes time and skill to prepare and cannot be carried around easily like other tobacco or nicotine containing products. It is generally enjoyed in social settings, weekly or monthly for the majority of consumers around the world. For example, a study in the United States found that 90% of shisha users, have it monthly while in Germany, the Federal Institute for Risk estimates on average around twice a week for the average consumer .

references

[1]

Journal of Nicotine and Tobacco Research, June 2018 https://academic.oup.com/ntr/article/20/6/731/3064155

[2]

Deutsche Bundesinstitut fur Riskobewertung (German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment) (2018).
Frequently asked questions about waterpipes.

Al Fakher believes that the manufacture,marketing and sale of shisha should be conducted responsibly,particularly by ensuring that shisha products are not sold or marketed to minors.Shisha is an adult product.Sales to minors should be prohibited,by age verification at points of sale with legal penalties for those who do not comply.

Shisha should be regulated,in particular to prevent sales and marketing to minors.

But we do not support the blanket application of regulations and taxes designed for other tobacco and nicotine products to shisha.Shisha is not comparable to other tobacco and nicotine products.It contains little tobacco. It is defined by its unique method and patterns of use which are unlike any other tobacco or nicotine product.Its usage is typically far less frequent than other tobacco products and it holds an integral place in the cultural and social lives of millions of people around the world.It is not conducive to use by minors as it can only be consumed through a large device that takes time and skill to prepare.

Regulation of flavours in tobacco products is becoming common in some parts of the world. Globally,virtually all shisha products are flavoured.This means that a ban on all flavoured tobacco products,including shisha, would be a de facto ban on the unique culture,history,and use of shisha.

We are opposed to prohibitions on the sale and use of shisha in any country.Regulators should exclude shisha from tobacco flavour bans based on its unique features and attributes.A ban would be incompatible with a tolerant,inclusive society.

Our
VIEWS
History of Shisha
KeyFacts

01

Shisha is an important cultural staple and a form of social engagement for many diverse communities around the world. Its cultural heritage dates back hundreds of years to India, Persia and the Greater Middle East.

02

Flavoured shisha products typically contain around between 15% and 25% tobacco with the remaining constituents being glycerine, flavouring and sugars.

03

Shisha is heated by an external heat source – charcoal – typically to around 190C to produce an aerosol that is inhaled through a waterpipe.

04

The aerosol from shisha consists of 60% water (based on a test of Al Fakher Two Apples with Mint).

05

Most shisha users globally enjoy shisha occasionally. A US study shows that 90% of shisha users use it just monthly (1) and according to the German Federal Risk Institute, the average consumer there, has it twice a week on average(2).

06

Shisha is typically a social pastime. It takes time and skill to prepare and requires special equipment that is not easily portable. It is often consumed in specialist social venues.

07

Shisha is not conducive to use by minors because it can only be consumed through a large device that cannot be concealed. Preparation time is long and each session lasts between 45 minutes and an hour.

08

An in-depth study(3) into tobacco use that was carried out by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) of the United States of America has shown that shisha lags significantly behind other tobacco products in youth use, behind e-cigarettes, cigarettes, cigars and smokeless tobacco. The CDC found that 3.4% of high school students used hookah in the last 30 days compared to 27.5% for vaping(4).

REFERENCES

[1]

Journal of Nicotine and Tobacco Research, June 2018 https://academic.oup.com/ntr/article/20/6/731/3064155

[2]

Deutsche Bundesinstitut fur Riskobewertung (German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment) (2018). Frequently asked questions about waterpipes. http://www.bfr.bund.de/en/frequently_asked_questions_about_water_pipes-60838.html

[3]

National Youth Tobacco Survey - Tobacco Product Use Among Middle and High School Students — United States, 2019.

frequently
asked questions

with the exception of black molasses known in Egypt but available in very few other countries.Flavoured shisha is a completely different product to black molasses.

For example,black molasses contain much higher levels of tobacco and nicotine.Their glycerin content is low and because of this,they can only be smoked by placing charcoal directly on the tobacco mixture,thereby burning it and releasing higher levels of toxicants.

Al Fakher does not produce any unflavored shisha.Al Fakher products cannot be consumed by direct application of charcoal to the shisha.Our flavoured shisha products include around 40% glycerin. Glycerin is a critical component in our shisha products because it enables consumption without burning the mixture.

Is all shisha flavoured?

answer: YES

FLAVOURED

Shisha

Misha Thumbnail

Lower level
of Nicotine

UNFLAVOURED

Shisha

Misha Thumbnail

Higher level
of Nicotine and toxicants

 

Does the water bowl act to purify the aerosol?

answer: NO

Water does not purify the aerosol. Its purpose is purely functional. Without the water, the aerosol from the shisha head cannot be drawn into the pipe.

All tobacco products have risks but shisha is very different from other tobacco products in its composition and use.Shisha aerosol is very different to tobacco smoke. Shisha contains little tobacco relative to other tobacco products.It is heated,not combusted and it produces an aerosol that is mostly water vapour.

A study commissioned by Al Fakher and published by the Cooperation Centre for Scientific Research Relative to Tobacco (CORESTA) found that an Al Fakher shisha (in this case Two Apples with Mint) generates an aerosol that is 75% water and glycerol (60% and 15% respectively).Cigarette smoke is 75% tar,nicotine and carbon monoxide.The same study found fewer and lower concentrations of constituents associated with tobacco smoke.

See Al Fakher Science for further details.

Most people enjoy shisha in moderation,far less often than typical smokers light up a cigarette.In the United States,for example, 90% of people who enjoy shisha do so no more than once per month.In comparison,the average American cigarette smoker will smoke 14 cigarettes per day.According to Germany’s Federal Institute for Risk,the average shisha user in Germany takes part in a shisha session twice a week.They state that If one compares the average water pipe smoker who smokes one to two waterpipes a week with an average cigarette smoker who smokes 20-30 cigarettes a day, then smoking cigarettes must definitely be seen as more harmful. However, based on the knowledge currently available the health risks are similar for waterpipe smokers who smoke two to three pipes of tobacco a day.

Is one hour of shisha the same as 100 cigarettes?

answer: NO

Misha Thumbnail

references

[1]

Cooperation Centre for Scientific Research Relative to Tobacco. A Preliminary Comparison of flavoured waterpipe tobacco aerosol with cigarette smoke. Wilkinson, Oct 2019

[2]

CDC, National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), Press Release, Thursday, January 18, 2018

[3]

Deutsche Bundesinstitut fur Riskobewertung (German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment) (2018). Frequently asked questions about waterpipes. http://www.bfr.bund.de/en/frequently_asked_questions_about_water_pipes-60838.html

History
of shisha

Shisha’s unique culture and history span many centuries and continents and are uniting features of diverse communities around the world.

Enjoying shisha has been a fixture of social and cultural activity since its first appearance in India in the 16th century. The tradition evolved from 17th century Persia to 18th century Turkey to 19th century Egypt and Pakistan, spreading to Western Europe and the United States as the world became more connected and migrants brought their cultures to new homes.

Today, enjoying shisha together remains a symbol of respect, hospitality, and social engagement in many communities.

History of Shisha

Shisha

Science

Al Fakher leads the shisha sector in carrying out scientific studies to help interested parties understand our products.

Shisha is not without risk but an evidence-based assessment of our products in their own right is important.

Assumptions based on experiences with other tobacco and nicotine products – all of which are very different from shisha in their composition and use – lead to wrong conclusions.

We carry out scientific studies and analyses into our products.

Find Out more

Follow the Link for key studies, topics and reports.

Comparison of the concentrations of nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide found in shisha aerosol vs cigarette smoke.

Comparison of the levels of known harmful compounds in tobacco smoke (also known as Hoffman Analytes) between shisha aerosol and cigarette smoke.

A laboratory review of a popular heat management device.

Comparison of the concentrations of nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide found shisha aerosol vs cigarette smoke

KEY CONCLUSIONS

  • Shisha aerosol is fundamentally different from tobacco smoke. Shisha aerosol from the tested Al Fakher shisha is made up of 75% water (60%) and glycerol (15%)
  • Cigarette smoke consists of 75% nicotine, carbon monoxide and tar
  • Shisha tobacco is heated to around 190C rather than burned or combusted.
  • Shisha aerosol from Al Fakher’s Double Apple with Mint is 0.12% nicotine vs cigarette smoke which contains 2.61% nicotine.
  • The claim that one shisha session equals 100 or 200 cigarettes is wrong
  • Cigarette smoke and shisha are very different and examined further in part 2
science of shisha

Our comparison of the levels of known harmful compounds in tobacco smoke (also known as Hoffman Analytes) between waterpipe and cigarettes.

KEY CONCLUSIONS

  • Twenty-nine harmful compounds found in cigarette smoke (known as Hoffman analytes) were not detected in shisha aerosol.
  • Of the 12 Hoffmann remaining analytes that were detected, they were found at much lower concentrations in shisha aerosol compared to cigarette smoke.
  • The study does not make conclusions about the risks of shisha compared to other products.
  • It further underlines that claims based on comparing aerosol and smoke volume between products are useless and misleading.
  • Carbonyls in shisha aerosol come principally from the charcoal and not from the shisha tobacco themselves (see Heat Management Study here)
science of shisha

carbon Monoxide Yields

methodology

Laboratory:

ASL Analytic Service Laboratory GmbH

Smoking regime:

ISO 22486 (recommended by the International Standards Organisation)

Smoking Machine:

Borgwaldt Shisha Smoker

Charcoal:

Cocobrico coconut shell charcoal

science of shisha

Figure 1.0: Carbon monoxide yields charcoal and charcoal plus “Kaloud Lotus” heating device set at 100% and 0% ventilation (according to ISO 22486).

science of shisha
science of shisha

Figure 2.0: “Kaloud Lotus” heat management device demonstrating position of the bottom ventilation holes (left) and the shisha head (right) used with the Borgwaldt smoking machine

Analysis of Carbon Monoxide levels in the aerosol of shisha heated by charcoal over foil and shisha heated with charcoal placed on a the “Kaloud Lotus” heat management device

Conclusion

  • In this study the use of the “Kaloud Lotus” heat management device significantly reduced carbon monoxide yields under machine smoking conditions compared to the use of a conventional shisha-head covered with aluminium foil (see Figure 1.0). The shisha product used in the test was Al Fakher’s Double Apple.
  • The “Kaloud Lotus” heat management device contains an adjustable ventilation mechanism which when twisted can open or close ventilation holes within the device to allow more or less airflow.
  • The different degrees of ventilation hole closure appeared to have a relatively minor impact on carbon monoxide yields and the reduction in CO yields from the use of the device at any setting was significant.
Composition
and use

Shisha molasses typically contain between 15% and 25% tobacco. The remainder is comprised of molasses, glycerine and flavour.

Shisha molasses are heated, not burned. An external heating element – charcoal – is placed over a bowl which contain the molasses. Typically, the shisha molasses are heated to around 190C, releasing an aerosol that is 60% water, 15% glycerol and 25% dry particulate matter which includes flavour and nicotine.

See Al Fakher Science for further details

Shisha use is typically occasional. It takes time and skill to prepare and cannot be carried around easily like other tobacco or nicotine containing products. It is generally enjoyed in social settings, weekly or monthly for the majority of consumers around the world. For example, a study in the United States found that 90% of shisha users, have it monthly while in Germany, the Federal Institute for Risk estimates on average around twice a week for the average consumer.

references

[1]

Journal of Nicotine and Tobacco Research, June 2018 https://academic.oup.com/ntr/article/20/6/731/3064155

[2]

Deutsche Bundesinstitut fur Riskobewertung (German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment) (2018).
Frequently asked questions about waterpipes.

Our
VIEWS

Al Fakher believes that the manufacture,marketing and sale of shisha should be conducted responsibly,particularly by ensuring that shisha products are not sold or marketed to minors.Shisha is an adult product.Sales to minors should be prohibited, supported by age verification at points of sale with legal penalties for those who do not comply.

Shisha should be regulated,in particular to prevent sales and marketing to minors.

But we do not support the blanket application of regulations and taxes designed for other tobacco and nicotine products to shisha.Shisha is not comparable to other tobacco and nicotine products.It contains little tobacco. It is defined by its unique method and patterns of use which are unlike any other tobacco or nicotine product.Its usage is typically far less frequent than other tobacco products and it holds an integral place in the cultural and social lives of millions of people around the world.It is not conducive to use by minors as it can only be consumed through a large device that takes time and skill to prepare.

Regulation of flavours in tobacco products is becoming common in some parts of the world.Globally, virtually all shisha products are flavoured.This means that a ban on all flavoured tobacco products,including shisha, would be a de facto ban on the unique culture, history, and use of shisha.

We are opposed to prohibitions on the sale and use of shisha in any country.Regulators should exclude shisha from tobacco flavour bans based on its unique features and attributes.A ban would be incompatible with a tolerant,inclusive society.

History of Shisha
KeyFacts

01

Shisha is an important cultural staple and a form of social engagement for many diverse communities around the world. Its cultural heritage dates back hundreds of years to India, Persia and the Greater Middle East.

02

Flavoured shisha products typically contain around between 15% and 25% tobacco with the remaining constituents being glycerine, flavouring and sugars.

03

Shisha is heated by an external heat source – charcoal – typically to around 190C to produce an aerosol that is inhaled through a waterpipe.

04

The aerosol from shisha consists of 60% water (based on a test of Al Fakher Two Apples with Mint).

05

Most shisha users globally enjoy shisha occasionally. A US study shows that 90% of shisha users use it just monthly (1) and according to the German Federal Risk Institute, the average consumer there, has it twice a week on average(2).

06

Shisha is typically a social pastime. It takes time and skill to prepare and requires special equipment that is not easily portable. It is often consumed in specialist social venues.

07

Shisha is not conducive to use by minors because it can only be consumed through a large device that cannot be concealed. Preparation time is long and each session lasts between 45 minutes and an hour.

08

An in-depth study(3) into tobacco use that was carried out by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) of the United States of America has shown that shisha lags significantly behind other tobacco products in youth use, behind e-cigarettes, cigarettes, cigars and smokeless tobacco. The CDC found that 3.4% of high school students used hookah in the last 30 days compared to 27.5% for vaping(4).

REFERENCES

[1]

Journal of Nicotine and Tobacco Research, June 2018 https://academic.oup.com/ntr/article/20/6/731/3064155

[2]

Deutsche Bundesinstitut fur Riskobewertung (German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment) (2018). Frequently asked questions about waterpipes. http://www.bfr.bund.de/en/frequently_asked_questions_about_water_pipes-60838.html

[3]

National Youth Tobacco Survey - Tobacco Product Use Among Middle and High School Students — United States, 2019.

frequently
asked questions

Is all shisha flavoured?

answer: YES

with the exception of black molasses known in Egypt but available in very few other countries.Flavoured shisha is a completely different product to black molasses.

For example,black molasses contain much higher levels of tobacco and nicotine.Their glycerin content is low and because of this,they can only be smoked by placing charcoal directly on the tobacco mixture, thereby burning it and releasing higher levels of toxicants.

Al Fakher does not produce any unflavored shisha.Al Fakher products cannot be consumed by direct application of charcoal to the shisha.Our flavoured shisha products include around 40% glycerin.Glycerin is a critical component in our shisha products because it enables consumption without burning the mixture.

FLAVOURED

Shisha

Misha Thumbnail

Lower level
of Nicotine

UNFLAVOURED

Shisha

Misha Thumbnail

Higher level
of Nicotine and toxicants

 

Does the water bowl act to purify the aerosol?

answer: NO

Water does not purify the aerosol. Its purpose is purely functional. Without the water, the aerosol from the shisha head cannot be drawn into the pipe.

Is one hour of shisha the same as 100 cigarettes?

answer: NO

All tobacco products have risks but shisha is very different from other tobacco products in its composition and use.Shisha aerosol is very different to tobacco smoke.Shisha contains little tobacco relative to other tobacco products. It is heated ,not combusted and it produces an aerosol that is mostly water vapour.

A study commissioned by Al Fakher and published by the Cooperation Centre for Scientific Research Relative to Tobacco (CORESTA) found that an Al Fakher shisha (in this case Two Apples with Mint) generates an aerosol that is 75% water and glycerol (60% and 15% respectively). Cigarette smoke is 75% tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide.The same study found fewer and lower concentrations of constituents associated with tobacco smoke.

See Al Fakher Science for further details

Most people enjoy shisha in moderation,far less often than typical smokers light up a cigarette.In the United States,for example,90% of people who enjoy shisha do so no more than once per month. In comparison, the average American cigarette smoker will smoke 14 cigarettes per day. According to Germany’s Federal Institute for Risk,the average shisha user in Germany takes part in a shisha session twice a week.They state that If one compares the average water pipe smoker who smokes one to two waterpipes a week with an average cigarette smoker who smokes 20-30 cigarettes a day,then smoking cigarettes must definitely be seen as more harmful.However,based on the knowledge currently available the health risks are similar for waterpipe smokers who smoke two to three pipes of tobacco a day.

Misha Thumbnail

references

[1]

Cooperation Centre for Scientific Research Relative to Tobacco.A Preliminary Comparison of flavoured waterpipe tobacco aerosol with cigarette smoke. Wilkinson, Oct 2019

[2]

CDC, National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), Press Release, Thursday, January 18, 2018

[3]

Deutsche Bundesinstitut fur Riskobewertung (German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment) (2018). Frequently asked questions about waterpipes. http://www.bfr.bund.de/en/frequently_asked_questions_about_water_pipes-60838.html