Shisha pipes to carry health warnings like cigarette packs

Wed, 13/02/2019

Shisha pipes in Westminster will carry labels to warn of health risks under new guidelines introduced by the council.

The labels, similar to current cigarette packaging warnings, aim to highlight how shisha smokers are at risk of heart disease, cancer and respiratory diseases. Warnings will also have to be displayed on herbal shisha pipes, as they pose their own health risks.


Councillor Heather Acton, Cabinet Member for Family Services and Public Health, said:  

“Many people are still totally unaware of the health risks of smoking shisha pipes, and if you smoke at a restaurant or cafe you may never see a single health warning, which does not help.

“Any other purchase of tobacco comes with very obvious health warnings, and there’s no reason shisha should be an exception.

“Smoking shisha, like other tobacco products, is unhealthy and dangerous, and we don’t want anyone to miss this fact.”


Businesses in Westminster are receiving packs of labels to place on shisha pipes, and also guidance from council officers on how they can help make a difference.

Research shows that exposure to nicotine from shisha smoking is enough to cause addiction, and shisha carries the same health risks as any tobacco. Shisha tobacco smoke contains nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide and heavy metals, which puts shisha smokers at risk of heart disease, cancer and respiratory diseases. Despite this, many shisha smokers believe that shisha smoking is less harmful and less addictive when compared to smoking cigarettes.

There is also a health risk associated with non-tobacco herbal products for smoking, as carbon monoxide and other toxins are still inhaled.

Graphic warning labels have proven successful in the UK in improving people’s knowledge of the risks (NHS), and there is good evidence they have moved people towards quitting (US National Institutes of Health). Nearly 2,000 deaths have been attributed to smoking in Westminster alone since 2007 (London DataStore).


Zaid Alkateb, Chair of It’s Still Tobacco, said:

“We welcome the initiative from Westminster City Council to enforce legislation appropriately on all forms of tobacco.

“The call for shisha pipes to be labelled with a written and graphic health warning has never been more important.

“The law on tobacco labelling has been clearly applied to cigarette packaging, yet many shisha cafes continue to get away with having no labelling on their shisha pipes whatsoever. Shisha smoking is growing in popularity and this interpretation of the legislation is needed to protect public health.”


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Last updated: 13 February 2019