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Shishology ... it's all smoke and mirrors

By Robert McNeill

Published 26/08/2011

I regret to announce I will not be visiting a shisha lounge. You say: "What in the name of the wee man is a shisha parlour? Speak plainly now!" Calm yourself. A shisha lounge is where you go to smoke a glass-bottomed water pipe containing fruit-flavoured tobacco.

It's a middle-eastern thing, and it's supposed to be spreading to parts of Britainshire. How that works with the smoking ban isn't explained.

However, given that it's bad for you, top experts in human nature expect its popularity to rocket. They say an hour-long shisha session is the equivalent of smoking between 100 and 200 cigarettes. And leading shishologists have hit back, saying there are only 142 chemicals in shisha smoke compared to 5,000 in fags. Still, 142 sounds quite a lot to me. I draw the line at 141.

Puffing shisha is said to relax participants and, of course, like smoking and drinking generally, it's a social activity where you can all die slowly together. Having been nearly five weeks off the booze at the time of going to press, I do wish there were places we could meet without killing ourselves. Starbucks? They ask too many silly questions. McDonald's? I suppose it's OK, if you don't have the food.

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