Brum’s shisha bars have ‘higher levels of pollution than Beijing’

Study shows how harmful hookah really is

birmingham brum dangerous hookah selly oak shisha smoke smoking students tab tab birmingham UoB

UoB researchers have recorded dangerously high levels of air pollution from Birmingham’s shisha bars.

The findings come from a University of Birmingham study into air quality levels at shisha bars across the city.

Shisha smoking (the act of smoking flavoured tobacco through a water pipe) is believed to have grown in popularity in recent years both in the UK and worldwide.

The study claims that levels of pollution found in shisha bars in Birmingham exceed that of Beijing – a city well known for its low air quality – by almost double.

The researchers visited 12 shisha bars in Birmingham and found “dangerous” levels of carbon monoxide and fine particulate matter, which are linked to cardiovascular disease, bronchial asthma, and lung cancer, amongst other illnesses.

During the visits, they also assessed the bar owners’ awareness of health risks associated with hookah.

75 per cent did not know that the smoke from shisha pipes was a hazard to their customers or staff, or the importance for smoking areas to be in open air.

Legislation also dictates that shisha bars must ensure that designated smoking areas must have at least 50 per cent of its area is open to the air, and since July 2007 Birmingham City Council has prosecuted six shisha premises for failing to comply with the 50 per cent rule.
12696356_10204183019815116_1363371258_oCris, a third year Maths and Business Management student, bought a shisha pipe with his friends in first year, and sometimes goes out to smoke with his housemates.

Cris told The Tab:”As a social or occasional smoker, it doesn’t change my opinion on social smoking too much.

“I’ve always been careful with the levels in which I consume shisha to avoid any permanent damage.”

On bars not sticking to regulations, Cris said: “It’s not only illegal but offensive to the population who want to smoke shisha to have a good time.

“Nobody smokes shisha to hurt themselves.”


Researchers hope that the findings will convince people to put down down their pipes.

Dr Juana Maria Delgado-Saborit, from the University of Birmingham, said: “Due to the rise in popularity of shisha premises in UK (and worldwide) and the lack of awareness of the risks associated with shisha smoke.

“Both smoking shisha and being exposed to shisha environment smoke have the potential to cause short and long term health effects similar to those associated with tobacco smoke and traffic air pollution. More research is required to understand how exposure to shisha smoke affects human health.”