Waterpipe smoking of tobacco is increasing, but research still lags behind

October 16, 2007

While in many Western countries there is public health pressure to stop smoking, the use of waterpipes (also known as hookahs, hubble-bubbles, narghiles, shishas, gozas or narkeelas) is increasing.

A team of Cochrane Researchers set out to see if there was any evidence about the addictive properties of this form of tobacco use, and whether there were research trials looking at treatment options to help waterpipe users quit.

"We searched for published and unpublished waterpipe cessation trials in any language, especially in areas of the world where waterpipe use is widespread, but were unable to find any," says lead researcher Dr Wasim Maziak, who says that some of the information gap will be plugged because his team is currently researching ways of developing cessation interventions for waterpipe users. Dr Maziak works at the University of Memphis, Tennessee, USA, and is the director of the Syrian Centre for Tobacco Studies in Syria.

Many people believe that because the tobacco smoke is drawn through water, it is less harmful than other forms of smoking, but the evidence accumulated so far does not support that assumption. It also appears that using a waterpipe is as addictive as other forms of tobacco smoking.

"As waterpipe use is increasing throughout Europe and North America it is very important that we initiate comprehensive research efforts to combat this looming epidemic," says Dr Maziak.


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