Shisha bars continue to flourish illegally right under the nose of the authorities concerned in the capital due to its growing popularity among young tobacco consumers.
Nowadays a large number of youths in the capital are addicted to Shisha smoking also called hookah, a way of smoking tobacco, sometimes mixed with fruit or molasses sugar, through a bowl and hose or tube.
DNC officials said Shisha is a drug and for this reason, there is no legal validity in consuming or selling it.
According to the Narcotics Control Act 2018, the range of nicotine in shisha items will not exceed 0.2 percent.
Dulal Krishna Saha, the chief chemical examiner at the Department of Narcotics Control (DNC), told the Daily Sun that 37 Shisha samples, which were collected from various Shisha bars in the capital,were examined at our labrecently.“We have found nicotine range more than 0.2 percent in all the samples.”
DNC conducted raids on various Shisha lounges at different times and found narcotic substance.
Due to the strictness of Shisha Lounge, their owners are giving a different explanation. They are trying to prove that it is not drugs or the nicotine content is below 0.2 percent. Some bar-restaurant owners filed a writ petition with the High Court for their own benefit. As the writ is not addressed, the DNC is unable to conduct raids in such bars.
It is also alleged that under the name of Shisha lounge, many of these businesses are allegedly involved in full-blown drug trade. It is the main concern of DNC officials.
Many restaurants in Gulshan, Banani, Dhanmondi and Uttara have separate Shisha lounges, always packed with young people. The cost for per session is Tk 1,000 to Tk 2,500.
Youths from upper-class families are the main consumers of Shisha bars, according to staffs of Shisha lounges.
Shisha users have the misconception that the smoke in Shisha is safe because the water absorbs the amount of nicotine present in the smoke, and thus completely harmless.
But the concept is wrong. A typical 1-hour-long Shisha smoking session involves inhaling 100-200 times the volume of smoke inhaled from a single cigarette.
While visiting a Shisha lounge in Banani area of the capital, this correspondent found those lounges always packed with youths.
Shisha lounges provide a private and cosy atmosphere to its customers. Usually, 4-5 young people share a hookah. Under the hazy smoke of tobacco, the water pipe keeps passing hands.
Talking to some youths, it was learnt that they only take Shisha for fashion. They use it only for pastime with their friends. They do not have any addiction to it.
Sources said the smoke produced by a hookah contains high levels of toxic substances, including carbon monoxide, cancer-causing chemicals. It is also responsible for cardiovascular diseases.
Due to the mode of smoking, including frequency of puffing, and long smoking session, hookah smokers may absorb a higher concentration of toxic elements than smokers of cigarettes.
Various types of fruit flavours are mixed with the ingredients of Shisha, which masks the narcotic contents.
Health experts said people smoke Shisha for a much-longer period of time than they do for a cigarette, and in one puff of Shisha the users inhale the same amount of smoke as a person gets from smoking a whole cigarette.
The average Shisha smoking session lasts an hour and research has shown that in this time a person can inhale the same amount of smoke as they do from more than 100 cigarettes.
Dr Mahfuzur Rahman Bhuiyan of National Heart Foundation of Bangladesh said, “Traditionally Shisha tobacco contains cigarette tobacco, so like cigarettes it contains nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide and heavy metals, such as arsenic and lead.”
“As a result, Shisha smokers are at risk of the same kinds of diseases as cigarette smokers, such as heart disease and respiratory disease,” he added.
He also said, “It’s difficult to say exactly how much smoke or toxic substances anyone is exposed to in a typical Shisha session.”
Mehedi Hasan, Assistant Director of DNC, told the Daily Sun that as per law the range of nicotine in shisha items will not exceed 0.2 percent. “For this reason, we have collected samples from various Shisha lounges at different times,” he said.