Vijaya Laxmi Tripura
Although in 2018, the Department of Narcotic Control (DNC) in Bangladesh had sent a proposal to the government with the request of including shisha as a drug in the law as its addiction among the young generation has been increasing at an alarming level, there is visibly no initiative yet in taking action against the existing shisha bars and lounges in various cities and towns in the country. Earlier, a High Court division bench had passed an order asking the authorities concerned to take legal measures to stop the menace of shisha smoking.
A probe-body formed by the Ministry of Home Affairs had collected eight samples from different shisha lounges at Dhaka’s Gulshan area and found the presence of cannabis in five of those samples after conducting chemical examinations at the DNC Chemical Lab.
According to DNC sources, there are at least 100 shisha lounges alone in various parts of Dhaka city, most of which are set up inside up-scale restaurants in Gulshan, Dhanmondi, Baridhara, Banani, Uttara, Baily Road, Basundhara and Nikunja area. The number of shisha lounges is increasing day by day due to its popularity among the tobacco consumers. Youths from well-off families are the main consumers of the shisha lounges.
Taking shisha with THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the most dangerous as one kilogram THC is produced from 100 kg cannabis. A typical one-hour session of hookah smoking exposes the user to 100 to 200 times the volume of smoke inhaled from a single cigarette.
According to health experts, the smoking of shisha can cause cancer, heart problem, sexual impotence and different infections and it is also responsible for the low birth weight of the babies of pregnant women smoking shisha.
Higher risk of the spread of coronavirus through shisha lounge:
In Bangladesh, most of the shisha lounges are mixing Yaba with the ingredient with the ulterior motive of increasing the number of customers by making them addicted to this practice.
Meanwhile, health experts say, the smoky environment inside the shisha lounges may pose a bigger risk of the spread of coronavirus, while the hookah used in the shisha lounges itself may contain the virus.
Although the culture of shisha came from the Middle East, in March this year, the Dubai government had banned shisha in all cafes, restaurants and coffee shops due to the high risk of the spread of coronavirus.