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The alarming popularity of shisha among Eritrean youth

Eritrean house party in California - Photo credit: Tesfe Biscotti

Shisha, which is also known by a number of different names, including waterpipe, hookah, argileh, narghile, and goza, is an instrument used for burning and smoking flavored tobacco that has become very popular among young minorities in the west.

These days, it seems like a large number of young Eritreans in the diaspora are smoking shisha during social gatherings and parties. Shisha was almost unheard of among Eritreans in the early noughties, now it's the thing to do when there's nothing to do.

I think part of the reason why shisha has grown in popularity among the youth is the social atmosphere it creates. There's also numerous misconceptions suggesting it is a safer alternative to cigarettes, leading many to experiment with it.

Despite the perception of shisha being safe, physicians are saying otherwise. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, shisha smoking is just as harmful as cigarettes and causes the same kind of disease associated with cigarette smoking.

  • Water pipe smoking delivers the addictive drug nicotine and is at least as toxic as cigarette smoke.
  • Due to the mode of smoking—including frequency of puffing, depth of inhalation, and length of the smoking session—hookah smokers may absorb higher concentrations of the toxins found in cigarette smoke.
  • A typical 1-hour-long hookah smoking session involves inhaling 100–200 times the volume of smoke inhaled from a single cigarette.
  • Hookah smokers are at risk for the same kinds of diseases as are caused by cigarette smoking, including oral cancer, lung cancer, stomach cancer, cancer of the esophagus, reduced lung function, and decreased fertility.

As a former shisha smoker myself, I can not stress enough this isn't intended to demonize shisha smokers. This is just a reminder to young Eritreans who continue to use it that they should, at the very least, consider doing so in moderation.

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The alarming popularity of shisha among Eritrean youth Reviewed by Admin on 1:34 PM Rating: 5


  1. Lool Tesfe!! I met the guy with the flattop at the YPFDJ meeting in D.C. a few years back. He is hilarious and intelligent. I miss him :'(

  2. I recently stopped smoking shisha. I used to think it was safe too until I researched it.

  3. Did you seek permision from the people in the picture to utilize the photo? I would hope so, especially since their families may not be too happy about this.


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