The 15 Reasons behind the World Upsurge in Hookah
(Narghile, Shisha) Smoking


1-Global Tourism and Migration Flows (back from Egypt, Tunisia, etc. with a hookah in the suitcase; hookah lounges in the West)

2- A New Hassle-Free Lighting System (new easy to light charcoal)

3- Relative Acceptance by Non-Smokers (notorious smoke irritants filtered out)

4- Unexepected Backlash Effect of Anti-Tobacco Campaigns (viewed as safer than cigarette smoking)

5- Filtration of Some Noxious Substances (some carcinogens, among others, may be filtered out)

6- A “Light” Dependence (seen as easy to quit)

7- The Influence of Television (case of the Arab World) (Egyptian movies have featured hookah smokers for decades)

8- The Rise of Individualism in Modern Societies (socialising needs and the search for new forms of sociability)


9- Conviviality (“social” smoking, sharing the hose (ludens), talking, long time passing)

10- A Powerful Symbolism (dream, art, “mysticism”, “peace pipe”)

11- A Transversal Social, Sexual, Religious and Inter-Generational Practice (social and cultural melting pot)

12- Flavours (“tobamel” (mu‘assel) , a flavoured tobacco (or no-tobacco)-honey/molasses based mixture) 

13- The Cultural Status of Honey (Koran, The Bees)

14- A Highly Sensory Experience (Five senses permanently stimulated)

15- “Rebellion” Values (an “anti-modern” concept of time passing in a global world. A social and cultural counter-product of the globalisation process of the Nineties)

  Dr Kamal T. Chaouachi
Researcher and Consultant in Tobacco Control (Paris)
Author of: Tout savoir sur le narguilé. Société, culture, histoire et santé [Eng.: Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Hookahs. Society, Culture, Origins and Health Aspects]. Paris, Maisonneuve et Larose 2007, 256 pages, colour.


© copyright K.C. 2006 and 2007