Welcome to the parents section of "smoke's no joke". We aim to arm you with all the information you need to tackle family smoking issues.

When is a cigarette not a cigarette?

Cigarettes aren't the only way of experiencing tobacco.


Pipes and cigars

People who smoke pipes and cigars have different health risk profiles to cigarette smokers, but that does not mean that this type of smoking is less harmful, as is often the misconception.

Whereas cigarette smokers have a 70% higher risk of premature death than non-smokers, pipe/cigar smokers risk is 10% higher. This is because these types of smokers have a different tobacco habit than cigarette smokers. They tend to smoke far less in terms of both frequency and quantity and tend not to inhale the tobacco smoke. However, the products themselves are still tobacco based and a recent study involving 7,700 men in the UK concluded that pipe and cigar smoking does carry a major risk of smoking related ill-health.

Water pipe

Water pipes

Water pipes (also known as hookahs, narghiles, shisha or hubble-bubble pipes) are gaining popularity in the UK, particularly amongst students and young people who enjoy the novelty and the social aspects of sharing the pipe.

Water pipes consist of a head, body, water bowl and hose. Tobacco, often flavoured with fruits and sugar syrup, is placed in the head and covered with perforated foil. Burning charcoal is placed on top of the foil.

The bowl is filled with water (submerging a tube for the smoke). Sucking on the hose creates a vacuum above the water causing the smoke to pass through the water producing bubbles and the familiar 'hubble-bubble' sound.

There is a common misconception that the water filters out harmful substances in the tobacco smoke before it is inhaled. This is not true and water pipe smoking delivers addictive nicotine in just the same way as a cigarette.

Water pipe users have an increased risk of cancers of the lungs, mouth and bladder compared to non-smokers. It is also associated with cardiovascular disease and respiratory disorders.

Chewing tobacco

Smokeless tobacco

Another form of ingesting tobacco doesn't involve 'smoking' at all.

Chewing tobacco is popular with some ethnic groups. Tobacco is combined with other ingredients to form a packet or quid. Betel pepper leaf used as the wrapping has a mint flavour and is relatively harmless, however the tobacco contained inside is not.

A ready-made mixture known as gutka is marketed in such a way as to be appealing to children so too are bidis, small, thin, unfiltered cigarettes which are cheaper than western style cigarettes and are often flavoured with cardamom, chocolate and strawberry.

Over 90% of oral cancer patients use tobacco either by smoking or chewing.

Cannabis cigarettes

The drug cannabis has developed considerably over time and in broad terms has doubled in strength every decade since the 1960's.

Of the 7000 individual studies examining the dangers of cannabis, not one has concluded that the drug is safe. Cannabis contains more than 400 chemicals, many of which are common to regular cigarettes, however in cannabis cigarettes these chemicals register in far higher concentrations such as five times as much carbon monoxide and four times the quantity of tar.

Smoking three cannabis cigarettes carries the same health risks as smoking 20 regular cigarettes.

For more information please refer to the Health Issues section

For more information please refer to the Nicotine and Addiction section

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