FRANCAIS automatique ICI


One Hookah Would Equal 200 Cigarettes and European “Colonialism” (sic !) Would Now

Be the Cause of the Hookah (Shisha, Narghile) Catastrophe ?


Do Not the “Leading” Middle-East Official “Experts” Defend, Instead,  a New form of "Imperialism"

(If we May Use a Phraseology Similar to that of These Experts...)

Aiming at Endorsing the Bush Neo-Conservative ““Great” Middle East” “Vision” (*)

in the field of Public Health ?

by Kamal C. (22-25 April 2007)


1-      Alan SHIHADEH as a Neo-Political Historian (“Colonialism” as the Cause of the Catastrophe)

2-      Wasim MAZIAK as a Neo-Sociologist (Social Smoking as a Crime)

3-      Mostafa MOHAMED as a Neo-Philosopher of Science Ethics (“Attacks” on “Good Science”)

4-      The Blatant Failure of “Waterpipe” “Experts” and their Intellectual and Scientific Misery

5-      The Failure of the “Peer Review” System and the Responsibility of these “Experts”

6-      Censorship, Personal and Covert Interests as the Main Reasons of their Bankruptcy

7-      Conclusion: The Real Experts are the Hookah Users and Censorship is a Dangerous Game

These are comments on the following story: ““ Shisha 200 times worse than a cigarette” say Middle East experts””, published by ASH (Action on Smoking and Health), 27 March 2007 (on main page, right hand side, prepared by Martin DOCKRELL)(retrieved 22 Apr. 2007).

I am not going, this time, to discuss the micro-details of these unpredictable ups and downs equating hookahs and cigarettes: 10, 20, 40, 100, today 200 and perhaps tomorrow 1000… Please refer to a press release published one year ago or so and entitled: “Le narguilé d’Ali Baba et les 40 cigarettes volantes” (Ali Baba’s Narghile and the 40 Flying Cigarettes), easily available on the Network, including in its English version.

Neither am I going to discuss other unscientific erroneous "factsheets" published by ASH or the following blazing hypocritical introductory statement: "[...] excluding “shisha bars” when England goes smokefree on July 1 could worsen the grave inequalities in health that already affect ethnic minorities."

I will focus on the “new” “findings” put forward by these “experts”, apparently called in emergency by ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) to help it enforce a ban on “Shisha Lounges” in the United Kingdom. Let me point out that the three “leading” “experts” (Wasim MAZIAK, Alan SHIHADEH and Mostafa MOHAMED) introduced by ASH, but also others (Kenneth WARD, Thomas EISSENBERG, etc.), are actually those who prepared two (yes, 2) erroneous (yes, erroneous) WHO reports on Shisha (Hookah, Narghile, “waterpipe”), the first ever published by this United Nations agency [1][2].

And the ASH Association goes as far as citing another full-of-errors (yes, full-of-errors) report recently published by the ALA (American Lung Association)[3]. For your information, this document actually contains on its first page a fake image showing that the “experts” of this organisation cannot distinguish between the smoke of a cigarette and that of a hookah…. And because of this "valuable" expertise, these world " experts" -who cannot distinguish between a pyrolysis and a distillation process [1], between tobacco products [2], and now between hookah and cigarette smoke [3]- pretend to alert the world on the hazards of hookah smoking... However, this is not the last straw as I will show right now.

Mostafa MOHAMED and his Neo-Philosophy of Science Ethics. He is the director of the US-ESPRI (Egyptian Smoking Prevention Research Institute) team. Please refer to the recent exchange of notes between us about my critique of the recently released WHO report he has personnally supervised [2]. I am afraid Dr Yumiko MOCHIZUKI, Director of the WHO Tobacco Free Initiative, was more “diplomatic” than sincere in her reply to my 1st letter to the Director-Gal of WHO letter: “We have taken note of your views”… Unfortunately, the same scenario repeated itself with the new report. In Pr Mostafa's opinion, my “attacks” (of course censorship is nothing violent for these people...) on “good science”” (sic, Thomas Eissenberg)(see examples of "good science": [1-3]) would be “unethical”… I will leave the readers make themselves their own opinion…

In a similar Letter to the Editor of Tabaccologia about this first report, I wrote:


Wasim MAZIAK and his Neo-Sociology.
He is the director of the US-Syrian Center for Tobacco Studies and author of numerous and famous studies on “Waterpipe” Smoking. This probably helped him become Associate Professor at the University of Memphis, where his colleague Kenneth WARD (co-author of some of his publications) works. Or was it, after all, the personal objective ? The ASH Association says Dr Maziak “expects to publish new research very soon” as if the dozens of previous studies were not of any help… According to the same organisation:  “The new study stresses that it is the very social nature of shisha smoking that makes the problem worse”. This is indeed news to me and now I understand better why my early health-oriented anthropological work was dismissed from an early date. It was obviously colliding with the new career this “expert” was longing for...

Alan SHIHADEH, Now Converted to a Political Analyst. He is a researcher at the American University of Beirut whose studies (financed by North-American institutions and the Board of the same university) fuelled most of the world confusion in the field of hookah smoking [1]. The use of a smoking machine for the study of what hookah smokers actually inhale (with disregard on experimental errors) is the last thing specialists in tobaccology would do. For a long time now, they have been advising against these methods [1]. Most recently, a team led by HAMMOND reminded this obvious fact to everybody [4]. And What is true for cigarettes -where the smoking session is short- is obviously true for the hookah where the sessions are known to be much longer. However, Shihadeh’ studies have been blindly and consensually accepted as a model of human hookah smoking and, noteworthy, have remained uncommented by his peers.


I will not discuss either how these “experts” interfere, with absolutely no scientific evidence, in the United Kingdom debate on indoor smoking bans. As they failed to produce any scientifically sound result, the cause of the harm would be, according to Alan SHIHADEH, now converted to a political analyst: “colonialism”: "One of the enduring legacies of colonialism is that many problems of public health which are more relevant to the global South have received scant scientific attention due to a lack of resources available there. Knowledge of the potentially detrimental health consequences of shisha smoke, first or second hand, is a good example. The historical lack of evidence has unfortunately allowed many shisha users to believe that the practice was safe, or at least safer than other forms of tobacco use. We have recently learned otherwise.”

Firstly,  the reference to a "historical" problem is quite ludicrous. As I state in a study -delayed because of the hard censorship it has endured in France (yes, in Voltaire's homeland) : "Until recently, hookah was mainly a traditional and sporadic mode of use of tobacco-based products. It apparently did not raise any major health problem over the last centuries" [5]. This means that, for centuries, local physicians in Africa and Asia have not paid a heavy attention to this tobacco use, not because they were not "developped" and "not-receiving-the-US-Syrian-Center-for-Tobacco-Studies-like-or-American-University-of-Beirut-like-""good"-science"", as the above "expert" scandalously suggests. Simply, they had not been seeing in their daily environment such silly things as "1 narghile = 200 cigarettes" and some of them were even surprised by the low prevalence of lung cancer in the regions in which this use has been taking place.

Recently, a team led by Funck-Brentano (French INSERM) has carried on an in-depth study on cigar and pipe smoking [6]. Its findings were unexpected for many observers. Due to the present international Neo-Mac-Carthyst campaign against researchers who think differently in the field of hookah studies, it is unfortunately impossible, for the time being, to do something similar with shisha users.

Secondly, please note how the reference to “colonialism” allows the researcher of the American University of Beirut to clean and exclude the USA for obvious reasons... Therefore, the “colonialists” who would be responsible for the world hookah catastrophe, are the Europeans… To whom does this “expert” want to sell this idea ? To Middle Easterners ? Fortunately, their political awareness is much higher than he believes. This suddenly brought up to my mind a speech I was invited to deliver in Havana last year. Unfortunately, I could not attend but my abstract was accepted and included  in the programme of the conference [7]. It was about the burning question of the new forms of orientalism in the world and was directly inspired by Edward SAID’s masterpiece (Culture and Imperialism, Vintage Books, 1994. See also his speech at York University ; Toronto, 10 Feb 1993) [8].

In brief, these “leading experts” have exposed to the whole world:

-not only the failure of their scientific production: from both the methodological viewpoint and that of the priority put on the quantity of studies before any concern over their quality;

-the downfall of the so-called “Peer-Review” system in this field of research. Indeed, dozens of reviewers in many biomedical and tobacco-related journals, instead of acknowledging with modesty that there were unqualified to treat a manuscript, have actually endorsed the publication of multiple flawed and biased studies [1].

-their ability to control mechanisms inside the World Health Organisation whereby they succeeded, through the voluntary dismissal of a full range of relevant literature, in staining by two times, the scientific credibility of this UN body [1][2].

As I recently said to Pr Mostafa MOHAMED : I do not believe the US-Syrian Center for Tobacco Studies  is a "model of [North-South] cooperation", as a Medline-indexed paper states [9]. The best researchers who have done the best studies are to be found in the South and were not necessarily supported, methodologically or financially, by foreign funds. The latter are not a guarantee of success. See SHAFAGOJ, SAJID, AL-MUTAIRI, etc., for instance. The best cooperation is peer-to-peer cooperation: South-South for instance. The kind of "support" brought by EISSENBERG, WARD and their institutions, not to mention the dubious role of the AUB, has been an all-out catastrophe.

It took me years to come to the conclusion that the “Taboo Research Areas in Middle East Health” were masked by a meant confusion [10]. Researchers like Yanal SHAFAGOJ, Mohammad Khan SAJID, Sana AL-MUTAIRI, and many others, who, for most of them, did not even cite the numerous studies by MAZIAK, SHIHADEH et alii, have actually carried out the best studies in the field of hookah smoking. A noteworthy fact is that most tobacco-related journals (more or less controlled by these people) enforce, for whoever submits a manuscript, the scandalous condition of using the neo-word “waterpipe”, another source of universal confusion [2]. Another consequence of such a condition is to blindly cite, despite its huge and numerous errors, the "first" “world review” (see early critique and my comments on rejected reply to recently posted E-Letter by the Editor of the journal] not to mention the flawed study by Alan Shihadeh on the not less famous and “realistic” “waterpipe” smoking machine of the American University of Beirut. In these conditions, “Arabs” do not need, neither a “scientific revolution” in this field nor models like the US-Syrian Centre for Tobacco Studies which has proved to be a total failure and the best counter-example [9][11].

So, now that these official experts are brought to bay, their argument is that “colonialism” would be the cause of the hookah epidemic ! What a Misery ! Has anybody noticed that all these US-supported research centres were set up over the last years only, i.e. simultaneously with the US Bush Administration military and political campaigns aiming at “remodelling” the Middle East into a ““Great” Middle East”, from Afghanistan to Mauritania?(*) Is not this striking ?

Case for wars on Iraq built on fake UN expert reports, fake alerts, fake “Weapons of Mass Destruction”, Anthrax hoax, etc. Are not the similarities between both scenarios breath-taking ?

And these official experts pretend to teach independent Middle East researchers what is “good” science ? Indeed, why do they point to (European) “colonialism” and not to US Bush Administration imperialism ?

As a Saudi Arabian columnist rightly points out: (free transl. from Arabic: […] I do not exclude the fact that one day a Western scientific or academic section will publish a study showing that shisha smoking causes diarrhoea, rheumatism and even widens the ozone gap… More, I even suspect that the Bush clan will eventually find that that the tobamel [mu‘assel, the tobacco (or no-tobacco)-molasses based smoking mixture for the hookah] contains terrorist genes and that the shisha is, in the end, nothing more than a booby-trap pipe bomb... This would be the ideal pretext for an invasion of Lebanon and Syria, known to be famous producers of shishas and their accessories! [12]

ثم إن الغربيين غدارون ويسيئون بنا الظن، ولا أستبعد أن تقوم جهة علمية أو أكاديمية غربية قريبا بإصدار دراسة تفيد بأن الشيشة تسبب الإسهال والتهاب المفاصل، وتوسيع ثقب الأوزون،.. بل ولا أستبعد أن جماعة بوش سيكتشفون أن المعسل يحوي جينات إرهابية، وأن الشيشة نفسها عبارة عن غليون أو بايب مفخخ، ويتخذون من ذلك ذريعة لغزو سوريا ولبنان بوصفهما في طليعة منتجي أجهزة التشييش!

Indeed, for half a decade now, these “experts” have not been doing science but waging a war. In the name of whom or what ?

-the Pharmaceutical Industry and its objective of swamping the world with nicotine patches and gums ?

-the Cigarette Industry ? If yes, this would clarify the reasons of their incredible insistence on comparing 1 hookah session with 1-to-10-packs-of-cigarettes. Indeed, I have never heard that such comparisons had ever been ever made (at least, to such skyrocketing proportions) in the case of the cigar, the short "dry" pipe or the bidis, etc., which are probably more hazardous than the hookah itself.

In any case, my conclusion is that these "experts" have never given a damn for public health or else, they would have shown their “studies” on cigarette (particularly US cigarettes...) smoking and the corresponding ratio between the latter and those on hookah, wouldn’t they ?

US_SCTS_Logo Have a look at the logo (graphic symbol) of the US-Syrian Center for Tobacco Studies . Question: why does it represent a narghile bowl and not a burning cigarette tip ?

For all these reasons, I consider that these “experts”, whose direct interests might be found elsewhere, are actually 200 times more dangerous than hookahs because they are dangerous for science and, beyond, for public health.

Kamal C.



(*) Control of the "Great Middle East”. See "Pre-emptive Wars"  Syria: an Imperialist Military Target and “Lebanon as A New Target: The Neo Conservatives and the Policies of Constructive Chaos

[1] A Critique of the WHO's TobReg "Advisory Note" entitled: "Waterpipe Tobacco Smoking: Health Effects, Research Needs and Recommended Actions by Regulators. Journal of Negative Results in Biomedicine 2006 (17 Nov); 5:17. (Open Access)

[2] Letter to Dr Margaret CHAN, Director-Gal of WHO (World Health Organisation), dated 18 April 2007, about the 2nd erroneous expert report published by her organisation: (18 April 2007).

WHO-EMRO (World Health Organisation - Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office) and ESPRI (Egyptian Smoking Prevention Research Institute). Shisha Hazards Profile “Tobacco Use in Shisha - Studies on Waterpipe Smoking in Egypt”. Cairo, 14 March 2007. ISBN: 978-92-9021-569-1. 84 pages.  Prepared by Senior editors: Mostafa K. MOHAMED, Christopher A. LOFFREDO, Ebenezer ISRAEL with contributions from: Maged EL SETOUHY, Ghada RADWAN, Rehab ABDEL RAHMAN, Omar KATTAN, Soheir AYYAD, Mohamed Hassan HUSSEIN, Nargis LABIB, Said OHN, Aisha ABO EL FOTOUH. Retrieved 17 Apr 2007 from: 

[3] ALA (American Lung Association). An Emerging Deadly Trend: Waterpipe Tobacco Use. 2007 (Feb).

[4] Hammond D, Wiebel F, Kozlowski LT, Borland R, Cummings KM, O’Connor RJ, McNeill A, Connolly GN, Arnott D, Fong GT. Revising the machine smoking regime for cigarette emissions: implications for tobacco control policy. Tobacco Control 2007;16:8-14.

[5] The Medical Consequences of Narghile (Hookah, Shisha) Use in the World. Rev Epidemiol Sante Publique [Epidemiology and Public Health] 2007 (20 June):3. [Article in English][Epub Ahead of print (17 Apr)]. 

[6] Funck-Brentano C, Raphael M, Lafontaine M, Arnould JP, Verstuyft C, Lebota M, Costagliola D, Roussel R. Effects of type of smoking (pipe, cigars or cigarettes) on biological indices of tobacco exposure and toxicity. Lung Cancer 2006;54, 11—18. Cited in Book : Tout savoir sur le narguilé. Société, culture, histoire et santé. Paris [Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Hookahs. Society, Culture, Origins and Health Aspects ]. Maisonneuve et Larose 2007, 256 pages, colour.

[7] Resumen de la ponencia : Cultura Material e Imperialismo. Mas alla del  Orientalismo y del Neo-Orientalismo. Como un objeto trivial de la vida cotidiana medio-oriental es ahora considerado una amenaza seria para EEUU [Material Culture and Imperialism. Beyond Orientalism and Neo-Orientalism. How a Commonplace Artefact of the Middle East Daily Life Is Now Seen as a Serious Threat to the USA] Enviada al XI Seminario Internacional del CEAMO (Centro de Estudios sobre África y Medio Oriente): “África y Medio Oriente ante los desafíos de las políticas neoliberales” La Habana, Cuba (27-29 de Junio del 2006).

[8] Culture matérielle et orientalisme. L’exemple d’une recherche socio-anthropologique sur le narguilé. Arabica 53 (2): 177-209. Koninklijke Brill NV (Leiden) 2006. [Material Culture and Orientalism. The Example of a Socio-Anthropological Research on Narghile]. Substantial English abstract availbale at:

[9] Maziak W, Ward KD, Eissenberg T, Klesges RC, Keil U. The Syrian Center for Tobacco Studies: a model of international partnership for the creation of sustainable research capacity in developing countries. Promot Educ. 2004;11(2):93-7,116,134.

[10] E-Letter to the Editor: What Taboo Research Areas in Middle East Health? BMJ 2006 (1 Dec). A critical analysis of: Maziak W. Health in the Middle East. BMJ 2006;333;815-816.  

[11] Letter to the Editor: Arabs Neither Need a Scientific Revolution Nor Are They a Cultural Exception. Science 2006 (07 Mar). A critical analysis of the following study: Maziak W. Global voices of science. Science in the Arab world: vision of glories beyond. Science. 2005 Jun 3;308(5727):1416-8.

[12] Ja‘far ‘Abbâs, “’Ahîran gazawnâhum”, Al-Watan (Arabia), 29 Sept 2003. Cited, pp.187-8, in a.m. book (see reference 6 above)


© Copyleft (use it as you want to but, please, cite it properly) : Kamal C. 2007