Amal was sitting alone at the back of the hall waiting for her friends to come with their Shishas because she didn’t have one. Shisha is not allowed among Yousra’s family so she couldn’t have one and depend on her friends. A bright smile appeared on Yousra’s face when she saw her friend entering the hall with her Shisha that has the same color as her dress to be more elegant. Ten minutes passed, their third friends came but without her Shisha. “It is the first time that Amal attends a wedding party without her Shisha,” wonderingly said Yousra. Yousra asked her, “where is your Shisha?” “It is in my bag,” replayed Amal. She had a very small Shisha like a cigarette; it is the Electronic Shisha, which is more fashionable than the traditional Shisha among women.
In Yemeni society, the stigma against female smokers persists; however, it can be said that majority of women smoke at least casually. Many years ago, it was essentially accepted that old, married and uneducated women would smoke ‘mada’a’ at women’s meetings and parties known as ‘tafreta’. Then, the habit, and especially the smoking of Shisha has spread to unmarried, educated women and young, even adolescent, girls. Now, to be more fashion, some women are trying to have the e-shisha.
E-Shisha is the electronic form of the traditional Hookah, with the main difference being that it lacks any tobacco or smoke. E-Shisha has been likened to e-cigarettes in this respect, particularly since they both contain nicotine cartridges and come in a variety of flavors. E-Shisha tends to come as a disposable product but there are some refillable versions on the market. One of the biggest differences between electronic Shisha and e-cigs is that the former produces much more “smoke” and gives more intense flavors. This isn’t real smoke though; instead it’s water vapor that is created using the device’s internal cartridge and battery. The battery heats up the e-liquid and produces vapor, which the user can inhale and exhale in the same way they would with real Shisha.
Asma al-Kebsi, a teacher, said that there is a big different between the traditional and electronic Shisha. The traditional one is for people who want to enjoy their time and have fun but the electronic one is for those who want to quit smoking because it is so boring.
“When the girl smokes Shisha for the first time, it is a kind of curiosity and desire because as we all know the forbidden fruit is sweet then gradually becomes addicted. Mostly when a woman is angry she goes to smoke Shisha to get rid of her anger through puffing smoke but the e-shisha doesn’t do the same job,” said al-Kebsi.
Ghadeer al-Manssor, a student, said that she didn’t like the taste of the e-shisha. “When I smoke Shisha I like to see clouds of smoke and I do this with the traditional Shisha. It is right it is more difficult when I prepare it, but I really can’t live without it.”
As women have become more aware of their rights, the drive to attain equal status with men has perhaps had some unexpected results. Seeing that men freely indulge in the habits, many educated Yemeni women have adopted the understanding they, too, should feel free to smoke and chew Qat.
Manee’a al-Ethari, works private company, said that woman is a mother and a school for her children so she has to be a good model for them. “They started to make themselves equal with the man in a very bad habits, they didn’t realize that they affect their children more that the father and they have to be aware of that.”
Al-Ethari added that it is fine if she smokes once a week and not in front of her children and also to keep her health safe. According to a report conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of smokers in Yemen has risen in recent years. Yemen ranked first among Arab nations with smokers comprising 60% of the population.
According to WHO reports, the 22 kinds of cancer caused by hookah and there are 4 thousand chemical substances which are the major cause of the spread of tuberculosis.
Dr. Mahmoud Mohamed, Professor of Chest Diseases, said that e-shisha is unhealthy because it contains chemical products where they have not studied the extent of its danger on human health. “The use of e-shishafor a long time hurts the lungs and can lead to chronic lung cancer, heart disease and other diseases.We have to stop use it because it’s not safe and there is no studies and research for the liquid substances component,” he warned.
Seham Ali, a teacher, said that she fears the spread of the e-shisha among teenagers because it is easy to use and can be easily hidden,because it is like the students’ pens.
Researcher and psychologist Dr. Najat Al-Saem said that in her opinion, the key factor behind the spread of the shisha smoking phenomenon in Yemeni society is access to satellite television channels and advertisements that convey images of Arab women smoking shisha.
Al-Saem believes that a number of negative consequences can be attached to women smoking shisha and chewing Qat, including anxiety, depression, appetite loss, and feelings of guilt. She said that many of these feelings arise when Yemeni women leave their homes and children for four or more hours a day to partake in the habits.