1 hour = 100+ cigarettes

Shisha may be more harmful than you think

1 hour = 100+ cigarettes

Did you know that one hour of shisha smoking is the same as inhaling more than 100 cigarettes?

Smoking shisha, hookah, or other water-pipe based tobacco product may seem harmless in a social setting, but there is no safe level of smoking for any tobacco product, whether it is shisha or cigarettes.

What is in shisha tobacco?

Shisha tobacco usually contains tobacco sweetened with fruit or molasses sugar, giving it a fruity aroma. It is smoked through a water-pipe, also sometimes known as a shisha, nargile, hookah, arghile, goza or hubble bubble.

Shisha tobacco is usually flavoured to increase the desire of the product, while also masking the harshness of the tobacco and other chemicals. Some products contain more nicotine than cigarettes, making them more addictive.

It is important to note that shisha and hookah products that do not contain tobacco are still classified as ‘tobacco products’ under South Australian law and therefore the same laws apply to shisha, that apply to other tobacco products.

Is shisha safer than smoking cigarettes?

No. Many young people are not aware that smoking shisha tobacco exposes them to similar or higher levels of harmful chemicals than cigarette smoking.

In addition, many shisha smokers don’t realise that all shisha smoke, regardless of whether it contains tobacco or not, is harmful to their health.

Second hand smoke is also a big issue for people who live or work in places where shisha is smoked. A one-hour shisha session generates second hand smoke with as much carbon monoxide as 20 cigarettes. Passive or second hand inhaling can be just as dangerous as smoking.

If the smoke is filtered through water aren’t all the toxins removed?

No. Most of the tar and fine particles are not filtered out through the water. Only around five per cent of the toxic chemicals are filtered out through water.

Also, because of the longer process of social shisha smoking, most people will inhale chemicals over a longer period of time (usually 15 minutes to several hours).

One hour of shisha = approx. 100 to 200 cigarettes.

You can also end up inhaling much more smoke from a waterpipe than from a cigarette because you usually take deep breaths and smoke for longer.

Compared to a cigarette, in an average water-pipe session you inhale:

  • 2-3 times the amount of nicotine
  • About 10 times the amount of carbon monoxide
  • 25 times the amount of tar
  • Up to 50 times the amount of lead.

Where can you use shisha in public places?

Shisha, whether it contains tobacco or not, cannot be used in any public place in South Australia where smoking is banned by law. This includes all enclosed public areas and workplaces, and outdoor public dining areas.

A person smoking in a smoke-free area can be fined by a police officer or government authorised officer. The business where the smoking occurs can also be fined.

All businesses that sell tobacco products, including shisha that may or may not contain tobacco, must have a Tobacco Retail Merchant’s Licence.

It is an offence to sell or supply shisha to any person under the age of 18. Serious penalties apply for offences involving the sale or supply of shisha to minors.

Shisha tobacco, including herbal types that do not contain tobacco, are also subject to the same restrictions on display, advertising and promotion that apply to cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products.

For information on shisha and South Australian tobacco laws:

For more information on shisha and your health: