Hubbly Bubbly- A Looming Public Health Threat in Botswana

Hubbly Bubbly- A Looming Public Health Threat in Botswana

The use of hubbly bubbly (also known as shisha) by young people in Botswana continues to rise due to the misconception that it is safer than other conventional tobacco products. The misconception is a result of the false advertising of the product as well as the ‘social status’ associated with smoking hubbly- it is often viewed as being ‘cool’ and up to date with the latest city trends. Also, the flavoured shisha products have added to the misconception that hubbly is safer making it socially acceptable.

Of recent, the Anti Tobacco Network has observed a growing trend of normalising and popularizing hubbly bubbly through ‘shisha picnics’ where young people gather together and smoke hookahs which are provided by the event organizers. The picnics are now very popular in urban areas and are held almost every weekend where these young people pay about BWP 100 to rent out the Hubbly for a period of an hour. The Hubbly service is also available in almost all the bars and clubs in the city.

Other social events such as music festivals have also embraced the Hubbly culture and use it as a marketing tool for their events. Additionally, shishas are now being provided at family events where parents take their children for some time out, unaware that they expose them to the deadly second hand smoke.

What is Hookah?                                                                 

The Stanford Medicine Tobacco Prevention Toolkit defines hookah as tobacco that is smoked using a water pipe. It is smoked in large, table top pipes with a mouthpiece attached to a flexible hose. The bottom of the pipe is filled with water and the tobacco is heated with burning charcoal. The smoke passes through the water pipe’s water bowl and is cooled as a result. Smoke is drawn through a hose to a mouth piece and the user inhales the vapor through the water.

The tobacco is usually sweetened and flavored using additives.  Other common names include: Shisha, Goza, Argileh, Water Pipes and Hubble-Bubble.

What are the harms of hookah?

It is important to highlight that Hookah is not less harmful than smoking cigarettes despite the smoke being filtered through water. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the smoke that emerges from a water pipe contains several toxins known to cause lung cancer, heart disease and other diseases. In addition it delivers the addictive drug nicotine and more frequent use is likely to result in addiction. Furthermore, the charcoal burned in the pipes often produces its own toxins, including high levels of carbon monoxide and cancer-causing chemicals.

As Botswana continues to fight tobacco use, it is crucial to also pay more attention on these new tobacco products and intensify public knowledge on their harms in addition to totally abolishing their advertising especially on social media.


Anti Tobacco Network