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dangers not understood Umair Arshad is just like any young person you would meet. He is energetic; he has dreams to go to college and be someone some day. He wants to do great things. Yet, Umair might not be able to fulfil those dreams. Yet, he might not be able to realize his full potential. Why? Umair is suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Umair was an avid smoker of "Sheesha", a trend not so new which has seemingly taken young people in cities by storm. Many are seen sitting on cafes serving Sheesha. Sheesha, is a form of Hookah which uses flavoured tobacco. The tobacco smoke passes through a water chamber and is inhaled deeply and slowly. The fruit flavoured tobacco tastes smooth and is sweet to smell. Thus smokers say it is a relaxing and un-rushed experience. However, the perception goes that it is not dangerous and much safer than cigarettes. Some actually believe it to be completely safe. The average Sheesha session typically lasts for more than 40 minutes, and consists of 50 to 200 inhalations that each range from 0.15 to 0.50 litres of smoke. In an hour-long smoking session of hookah, users consume about 100 to 200 times the volume of smoke of a cigarette. Despite a different chemical composition of the smoke, it is expected that heavy and long-term use still has the potential to lead to diseases generally induced by tobacco. A study in 2008, by a group of Pakistani researcher found that overall serum CEA levels (a biological marker for cancer) in exclusively Shessha smokers, who had been using weight equivalents of up to 60 cigarettes of tobacco in daily sessions for decades, were higher than in non-smokers. Dr Khalid Anis, Chairman of NTAG in Manchester, says: "There's a misconception that sheesha is not as bad for you as cigarettes, because the tobacco is flavoured and passes through water first. But the carcinogens and nicotine are still there. So a regular Sheesha smoker can expect to be at risk to the similar health problems that cigarette smokers face, whether that's respiratory, heart disease or cancer. As with any other tobacco product, I expect regular Sheesha smokers will find it addictive, to the point that they may need it every day." Teenagers and parents do not completely understand the risks associated with Sheesha. It is becoming a status symbol. It is also easier for underage minors to have access to Sheesha, as it not only lacks the stigma associated with cigarettes but also can be done at normal cafes, even family cafes. There needs to be stricter legislation and control over the serving and availability of Sheesha too. The generation gap has allowed space for parents not to completely understand the health risks and true nature of what Sheesha is. We need to take steps to make parents aware of how dangerous it truly is, and the life of their children is at risk, at the same while banning it at public places. The UK banned smoking in public places a few years ago leading to a reduction in the number of smokers. We need similar bans in place, and stricter legislation along with awareness campaigns about the dangers of Sheesha. These steps must be taken to ensure that other young people do not end up like Umair, that they do not see their dreams get shattered and their futures destroyed.