Hookah is not our culture


The use of hookah, also known as shisha, by the Somali community has become widespread in recent years. This is mostly due to the misconception that it is safer than cigarettes. In recent years, smoking hookah has become common in social gatherings and has become a way of socializing among youth. The growing popularity of hookah is due to social media and hookah lounges where youth are more likely to hang out. However, smoking hookah is not part of our Somali culture and it is associated with many physical and mental health risks.

Health effects

The majority of people who smoke hookah believe it to be safer than cigarettes, however this is not true. Hookah can affect the user’s health the same way cigarettes do, if not more. The use of hookah or exposure to secondhand smoke has been associated with many health problems such as heart disease, cancer, and respiratory disease. 

Shisha is often consumed by a large group of people sharing the mouthpiece of Shisha, which puts people at risk for other infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, jaundice, and meningitis. Additionally, the use of tobacco products is found to worsen your mental health. Studies have shown that tobacco users reported worsening of mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression.

Is it safer than cigarettes?

There is a misconception that shisha is safe as it becomes more socially accepted and used in social gatherings. People who smoke shisha think it is less harmful than cigarettes, while seeing cigarettes as “uncool” or more dangerous, but that is a seriously flawed idea. Smoking shisha has many health risks similar to smoking cigarettes. One session of smoking shisha, which lasts about 1 hour, equals smoking roughly 100 cigarettes. This means that the person has consumed 10 times the carbon monoxide and 2.5 more nicotine than regular cigarettes. 

Hookah is not our culture

When we get together to play chess, make dumplings, and share coffee, we are enjoying our culture.  Smoking shisha is not part of our culture. Poetry, traditional dancing, and singing is part of our culture. Shisha is an addictive drug. Do not let the aromatic flavors fool you, smoking hookah delivers more carbon monoxide, nicotine and tar than cigarettes. So let’s retain our healthy way of socializing and say no to shisha.


Written by:

Amina Salad

Community Health Worker

WellShare International


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