5. Member Debate under Standing Order 11.21(iv): Control of tobacco and nicotine products

Part of the debate – in the Senedd at 3:43 pm on 15 May 2024.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Altaf Hussain Altaf Hussain Conservative 3:43, 15 May 2024

I was delighted to be asked to co-sponsor this motion today. Sadly, smoking remains one of the biggest killers in Wales. Despite years of public health interventions, we are still seeing thousands of people each year losing their lives needlessly, which is why I support a tobacco and nicotine register in order to target our stop-smoking initiatives in Wales and link it with the UK Government's tobacco and vapes Bill. We have to stop the deaths, and that means stopping people from getting addicted to nicotine in the first place. I believe a retail register would help aid the fight against young people getting hooked.

Colleagues will no doubt address the issues with cigarettes, as Mabon has done, and John has also said about it. So, I want to focus my contribution on shisha smoking. More and more young people are getting hooked on hookah. Since the ban on smoking in public places, there has been a 210 per cent increase in shisha bars and cafes. Shisha, also known as hookah, narghile, water pipe, hubble bubble or jajeer in Kashmir, is a method of smoking tobacco invented in the sixteenth century by a physician named Hakim—'hakim' means physician, homeopath—Abdul Fateh Gilani. He was a physician in the Mughal durbar, or you can say 'court'. The purpose of the device was to pass smoke through water in an attempt to purify the smoke, a myth that has since been disproven by medical science, but sadly one that persists to this day.

Shisha utilises specially prepared tobacco that is heated to produce smoke with bubbles through a bowl of water and into a long hose-like pipe to be breathed in. The tobacco can come in different flavours, and sometimes it's mixed with molasses or sugar, often making the smoke smell sweet. It is usually heated by burning wood, coal or charcoal. Shisha smoking is popular in south-east Asia, the middle east and north African communities, especially among young people. It is becoming increasingly popular here in the United Kingdom. A shisha session typically lasts for about 45 minutes. Research conducted by the New South Wales Government suggested that each session is the equivalent of smoking 100 cigarettes. Shisha smoke is toxic, it contains chemicals including carbon monoxide and tar, which are bad for health—your health, my health and those around us—yet many young people still think it is safe.

In the short term, shisha can increase your heart rate and your blood pressure, reduce your lung capacity, impact your physical fitness, and has been known to cause carbon monoxide poisoning. In the long term, shisha smoking can cause head, neck, lung and other cancers, heart diseases, lung diseases, and lead to early ageing. Shisha smoking, far from being a safe alternative, is as dangerous if not more so than cigarettes. Its flavour and ceremony appeals to young people and it gets them hooked on nicotine incredibly fast. Ensuring that shisha cafes and bars need a tobacco licence can help regulate the growing industry and prevent under-age users. Taken alongside the Tobacco and Vapes Bill, we can ensure future generations will be free of smoking-related harms and death. I urge Members to support our motion. Diolch yn fawr.