Waterpipe

Waterpipe use has been growing in popularity in Alberta over the past decade. Public venues designed for smoking waterpipes have become more widespread, exposing many Albertans--including hospitality workers--to secondhand smoke and enticing youth to experiment with alternative forms of smoking. International public health organizations identify waterpipe use as a growing public health issue with significant negative health effects.1 2 3 4 5

The Alberta Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act could address these health concerns, however the relevant sections remain unproclaimed more than three years after the Act was approved.

More than 96,600 Canadian youth are waterpipe users.6  In Alberta, for every five youths who report using cigarettes within the past 30 days, there are four youths who report smoking a waterpipe.7 Waterpipe use appeals to youth because it is relatively affordable8, it is a social actively, the smoke is more paletable for beginner smokers and it comes in an assortment of candy and fruit flavours.  

The vast majority of waterpipe tobacco (shisha) is flavoured and is currently exempted from the flavoured tobacco ban despite high rates of flavoured shisha use among Alberta youth.  In fact, shisha has become the most popular flavoured tobacco product among Alberta youth, surpassing menthol cigarettes and flavoured smokeless tobacco.9

Bars and restaurants that offer waterpipe smoking have been operating in Alberta for over a decade with dozens of locations in Edmonton and Calgary and with several establishments emerging in smaller urban and rural areas.10  Such businesses expose staff and patrons to secondhand smoke and contribute to increased uptake of smoking by youth.

Proportion of school-aged tobacco users in Alberta using waterpipes11

A telephone survey of 1,200 Albertans aged 18 and over conducted in 2016 revealed that 80% of respondents supported a ban on the use of waterpipes in all public places where tobacco use is banned.  The 2016 Chronic Disease Prevention Survey was commissioned by the Alberta Policy Coalition for Chronic Disease Prevention.

The Campaign for a Smoke-Free Alberta recommends that the Alberta government ban flavoured shisha tobacco, proclaim and implement the ban on waterpipe use in public establishments and workplaces and educate the public about the dangers of waterpipe use.

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Footnotes

  1. Maziak W, Ward KD, Afifi Soweid RA, et al. Tobacco smoking using a waterpipe: a re-emerging strain in a global epidemic. Tob Control 2004;13(4):327-33.
  2. Knishkowy B, Amitai Y. Water-pipe (narghile) smoking: an emerging health risk behavior. Pediatrics 2005;116(1):e113-9.
  3. World Health Organization. Tobacco Free Initiative, WHO Study Group on Tobacco Product Regulation. (2005). Waterpipe tobacco smoking: Health effects, research needs and recommended actions by regulators [online]. Geneva, Switzerland: Author. http://www.who.int/tobacco/global_interaction/tobreg/Waterpipe%20recommendation_Final.pdf.
  4. Maziak, W., Ward, K. D., & Eissenberg, T. (2004). Factors related to frequency of narghile (waterpipe) use: The first insights on tobacco dependence in narghile users. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 76, 101–106.
  5. Eissenberg, T., & Shihadeh, A. (2009). Waterpipe tobacco and cigarette smoking: Direct comparison of toxicant exposure. American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 37, 18–23
  6. Government of Canada. Summary of results: Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey 2014/2015.  https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/canadian-student-tobacco-alcohol-drugs-survey/2014-2015-summary.html
  7. Cumming, T., Rynard, V. (2017). In Brief: Student Tobacco use in Alberta, 2014/2015 Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey. Waterloo, Ontario: Propel Centre for Population Health Impact, University of Waterloo.  https://uwaterloo.ca/canadian-student-tobacco-alcohol-drugs-survey/sites/ca.canadian-student-tobacco-alcohol-drugs-survey/files/uploads/files/cst14_tobacco_use_ab_20170515v5_a.pdf
  8. Dugas, E. et. al. Water-Pipe Smoking Among North American Youths. Pediatrics Vol. 125 No. 6 June 1, 2010 pp. 1184 -1189
  9. Cumming, T., Rynard, V. (2017). In Brief: Student Tobacco use in Alberta, 2014/2015 Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey. Waterloo, Ontario: Propel Centre for Population Health Impact, University of Waterloo.  https://uwaterloo.ca/canadian-student-tobacco-alcohol-drugs-survey/sites/ca.canadian-student-tobacco-alcohol-drugs-survey/files/uploads/files/cst14_tobacco_use_ab_20170515v5_a.pdf
  10. These facts are based on anecdotal evidence since the government does not register, track, or otherwise monitor such establishments.
  11. Cumming, T., Rynard, V. (2017). In Brief: Student Tobacco use in Alberta, 2014/2015 Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey. Waterloo, Ontario: Propel Centre for Population Health Impact, University of Waterloo. https://uwaterloo.ca/canadian-student-tobacco-alcohol-drugs-survey/sites/ca.canadian-student-tobacco-alcohol-drugs-survey/files/uploads/files/cst14_tobacco_use_ab_20170515v5_a.pdf