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The renaissance of the narguileh 

Leisure-inducing pastime is gaining in popularity – Daniel del Castillo reports
Jump to full article: Beirut Daily Star (lb), 2000-12-05
Author: Daniel del Castillo


Along with prayer and fasting, Ramadan is a time for evening gatherings of family and friends. For many, time-honored rituals like smoking narguileh have become firmly established as post-iftar traditions.

During the festive sunset hours, billows of rose-, honey-, and apple-flavored tobacco smoke waft across expansive Ramadan tents and open-air cafes. Narguileh smoking in Lebanon transcends all boundaries, reaching women, young students, and even traditional non-cigarette smokers who are lured in by the hypnotic suggestiveness of the repetitive gurgle.

The Ottomans introduced the narguileh (also known as hubble bubble or hookah) to the Arab world in the 15th century and it rapidly spread through the Levant and into North Africa. . .

“There is a very big misconception about the health risks of smoking narguileh. People think they’re diluting the nicotine and poisons but in effect they are not,” said Alissar Rady, a medical officer at the World Health Organization who works on anti-smoking campaigns. “Narguileh tobacco has the same carcinogens as cigarette tobacco. In fact, smoking one narguileh has the same effect as smoking a pack of cigarettes.

“Absorption of toxins begins in the mouth,” she added. “It’s the same as cigarettes, pipes, and cigars. Narguileh smokers also have a very high rate of lip and gingival (gum) cancers.”

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