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Shisha threat ‘greater than pandemic flu’, LMC leader claims

Shisha smoking poses a greater threat to patients than pandemic flu and is making a ‘mockery' of attempts to reduce smoking in young people, a senior GP has warned.

In a letter to London Mayor Boris Johnson, the chief executive of NHS London, and London's regional director of public health, Londonwide LMCs chief executive Dr Michelle Drage warned that the current craze for shisha pipes was risking the health of 18-30 year olds and certain ethnic groups in London.

She said: ‘This is actually happening now, and is at least as  worrying than the risk of a future flu pandemic.'

‘It makes a mockery of the efforts of our healthcare workers who strive, using public resources, to prevent smoking disease, especially in this age group, never mind the ethnic health concerns, or the concerns about secondary smoking .

Quoting British Heart Foundation figures that suggest one hour of shisha pipe smoking is equivalent to smoking 100 cigarettes, Dr Drage asked whether the Greater London Assembly, London local authorities and the NHS in London had a duty to act, and what levers they could use to tackle to the problem.

In an editorial written for February's issue of the British Journal of General Practice, researchers at Imperial College London said shisha smoking is a ‘growing health concern' and should be tackled by GPs asking about consumption during consultations.

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