At worst, Dr Wareing claimed, ‘shisha was 400 to 450 times worse than having a cigarette’.
Wareing’s shock must have come from the finding that shishas are even more dangerous than believed following a 2007 study suggesting it was ‘200 times worse than a cigarette’, or 100 times worse, depending on who reported the study’s findings. The Department of Health is now working hard on ‘how best to get the message - that it is dangerous - across to the consumer’, grappling with the fact that it’s not easy to slap a warning sticker on a shisha pipe.
The research, however, has come under fire from some quarters, notably Dr Kamal Chaouachi, a tobacco expert from Paris IX University, who criticises the fact that the data has not yet been ‘peer reviewed or published’. Dr Chaouachi points out that shisha smoking is typically not ‘chronic’, with users usually partaking only one-to-three times a week, and criticises the way the study singles out carbon monoxide, which is relatively quickly flushed out of the body, for study: ‘Carbon monoxide is only one chemical out of thousands in cigarettes, so one cannot compare. But even if we look only at that chemical, shisha is not “worse” than cigarette smoking. The BBC should apologise [for its report on these findings].’
Dr Chaouachi knows of what he speaks and it's good to see at least a few news sources reporting his comments (see also here and here). But he's still waiting for a full reply from the BBC.
His comments about the shisha report can be read here, and an interview we conducted earlier in the year can be read here.