It has long been known that smoking shisha is particularly harmful to the body. Now a study shows: the risk of a severe corona infection can also be increased.
At the beginning of the Corona crisis, hookah bars had to close nationwide. At the beginning of June, a hookah bar hit the headlines in Göttingen. There was a major corona outbreak there – the restaurant had opened without permission despite corona requirements.
The result: More than 60 people who were previously in the bar tested positive for the corona virus. It was not known whether they smoked together from a water pipe, as is customary in shisha bars.
When smoking shisha, a special tobacco is used, which is available in a wide variety of flavors such as apple or mint. The tobacco is smoldered on coal in the water pipe. The resulting smoke is then passed through a water vessel, where it cools down, and inhaled through a hose.
What is currently the case with hookah bars?
In some federal states, hookah bars are allowed to reopen and allow their guests to smoke hookah pipes – but under strict conditions. This includes, for example, the following rules:
- One shisha should be used per person. Sometimes it is allowed that people who belong to a household can share a shisha.
- Disposable hoses and disposable mouthpieces must be used.
- The shisha should be prepared with gloves and a face mask.
- Every hookah must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after use.
Can I get infected with corona while smoking shisha?
According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the main route of transmission of the coronavirus in the population is droplet infection. That means: The virus is passed on from person to person via droplets in the air we breathe.
Shishas are very often used by several people. This generally harbors the risk of contracting pathogens. Accordingly, the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus can also be transmitted when sharing a shisha. The above-mentioned hygiene concepts are intended to contain the risk of infection in hookah bars.
Study: how harmful is shisha smoking in corona times?
German researchers have investigated whether smoking cigarettes or shishas, as well as vaping e-cigarettes, may increase the risk of contracting the coronavirus and developing more severe symptoms. To this end, the team of scientists around Thomas Münzel, director of the Center for Cardiology at the Mainz University Medical Center, analyzed various studies on the health consequences of consuming cigarettes, hookahs and e-cigarettes.
The studies showed that the consumption of cigarettes, hookahs and e-cigarettes increases the risk of arteriosclerosis and other cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes, the lung disease COPD and lung cancer.
With regard to the effects of smoking and vaping on Covid-19 infections, the researchers refer to a statement by the World Health Organization (WHO). The latter had warned at the end of May that smoking cigarettes or shishas could worsen Covid-19 symptoms, so that intensive treatment or ventilation could be necessary and serious health consequences could be possible.
Smoking and vaping as possible risk factors
“Since smoking is a known risk factor for infections of the respiratory tract and it increases the likelihood of pre-existing conditions such as the cardiovascular system, it could make Covid-19 patients more susceptible to severe symptoms and thus lead to increased mortality,” it says in the study, which was published in the English-language specialist journal “European Heart Journal”.
But the e-cigarette is not an alternative. The WHO emphasizes that e-cigarettes appear to be less harmful than tobacco cigarettes. But according to the researchers, they too could have effects on the lungs, heart and blood vessels and also increase the risk of Covid 19 infection. Smoking shishas is just as harmful as consuming traditional cigarettes and, according to the authors, therefore cannot be seen as a “healthy” alternative.
Their conclusion: smokers should try to get used to the vice – regardless of whether they use a cigarette, shisha or e-cigarette.