Mohammed Al Hammadi, 24, from Al Gharbia, smokes dokha and cigarettes but says dokha has a faster hit. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National
Mohammed Al Hammadi, 24, from Al Gharbia, smokes dokha and cigarettes but says dokha has a faster hit. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National

Myth that smoking medwakh is safer than smoking cigarettes ‘needs to be dispelled’



ABU DHABI // The myth that smoking medwakh is safer than smoking cigarettes needs to be urgently dispelled, health professionals say.

And they say this can only be achieved with more research into the health effects of dokha tobacco.

“We don’t have enough research on medwakh in the UAE,” said Dr Yasser Sadawey, specialist in internal medicine and medical director at Burjeel Medical Centre.

“I believe that increasing research about the results of this habit will bring a lot of new information and confirm the old beliefs about its bad effects.”

Medwakh is the pipe used to smoke dokha, a tobacco that is usually mixed with herbs and spices, and smoked in the UAE and Oman. Its name is Arabic for “dizziness”.

Among the misconceptions is that dokha is less harmful because it is more natural and does not contain additives, said Dr Sadawey.

But it is not completely pure. It includes ingredients for its aroma. “It carries the same risk as cigarette smoking,” Dr Sadawey said.

“It will lead to the same diseases and maybe even worse.”

Smoking cigarettes can lead to cancers and cardiovascular diseases, but pipe smoking carries more risk of developing mouth and lip ulcers or cancer, said Dr Sadawey.

The difference in odour is one common reason many people prefer medwakh to cigarettes.

“I think from the social point of view, when they smoke medwakh it does not leave the odour of smoking over the clothes and in the mouth,” he said. “It’s not sticky like cigarette [odour].”

Most young people who commit to smoking do so early, in their teenage years.

“Unfortunately, by the age of 40, they will start to have the effects of smoking chronic chest infections, chronic cough. Some of them will also have cancers.

“Most of them start smoking cigarettes and then turn to medwakh with the same misconception of it being less harmful.”

While the medwakh bowl is smaller than pipes used in other parts of the world, its comparatively high nicotine levels still make it hazardous to users, a 2011 study says.

The study surveyed more than 9,000 applicants to the Abu Dhabi pre-marital screening programme and found 24.7 per cent said they were smokers.

More than 11 per cent said they smoked cigarettes, while 5.9 per cent said they smoked medwakh and 4.8 per cent shisha pipes. About 2.5 per cent said they smoked a combination of the three.

UAE nationals had the highest prevalence for smoking medwakh, at 16.1 per cent, and were defined as those who smoked at least once a day or on some days, said the survey.

Among those aged between 20 and 29, the prevalence jumped to 17.3 per cent.

Women were found to be much less likely than men to smoke the pipe. Only 0.1 per cent reported that they used it, compared with 11.5 per cent of men.

“Health promotion efforts should target young male UAE nationals to raise awareness about the harmful health effects of medwakh smoking and other forms of tobacco consumption,” the study report reads.

Cigarettes and medwakh are both bad for health, but cigarettes are worse for clothing, said Mubarak Al Mazroui, 48, a dokha smoker from Abu Dhabi. “It’s the same.”

“Why do I smoke medwakh?” asked Mohammed Al Hammadi, 24, from Al Gharbia. “Because I feel it quicker than cigarettes.”

Medwakh can be a hassle to smoke because the pipe needs to be cleaned and the filter needs to be changed regularly, he said.

“All my friends smoke medwakh,” Mr Al Hammadi said.

But he does not think that it is any healthier than cigarettes. “In smoking, there is no health.”

lcarroll@thenational.ae

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Best movie: Avatar

Academic qualifications: Bachelor’s degree in media production from the Higher Colleges of Technology and diploma in production from the New York Film Academy

Empires of the Steppes: A History of the Nomadic Tribes Who Shaped Civilization

Author: Kenneth W Harl
Publisher:
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Pages:
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4) Gianluigi Buffon, Parma to Juventus (£33m)

5) Angelo Peruzzi, Inter Milan to Lazio (£15.7m

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Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
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Rating: 2/5

RACECARD

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Where to donate in the UAE

The Emirates Charity Portal

You can donate to several registered charities through a “donation catalogue”. The use of the donation is quite specific, such as buying a fan for a poor family in Niger for Dh130.

The General Authority of Islamic Affairs & Endowments

The site has an e-donation service accepting debit card, credit card or e-Dirham, an electronic payment tool developed by the Ministry of Finance and First Abu Dhabi Bank.

Al Noor Special Needs Centre

You can donate online or order Smiles n’ Stuff products handcrafted by Al Noor students. The centre publishes a wish list of extras needed, starting at Dh500.

Beit Al Khair Society

Beit Al Khair Society has the motto “From – and to – the UAE,” with donations going towards the neediest in the country. Its website has a list of physical donation sites, but people can also contribute money by SMS, bank transfer and through the hotline 800-22554.

Dar Al Ber Society

Dar Al Ber Society, which has charity projects in 39 countries, accept cash payments, money transfers or SMS donations. Its donation hotline is 800-79.

Dubai Cares

Dubai Cares provides several options for individuals and companies to donate, including online, through banks, at retail outlets, via phone and by purchasing Dubai Cares branded merchandise. It is currently running a campaign called Bookings 2030, which allows people to help change the future of six underprivileged children and young people.

Emirates Airline Foundation

Those who travel on Emirates have undoubtedly seen the little donation envelopes in the seat pockets. But the foundation also accepts donations online and in the form of Skywards Miles. Donated miles are used to sponsor travel for doctors, surgeons, engineers and other professionals volunteering on humanitarian missions around the world.

Emirates Red Crescent

On the Emirates Red Crescent website you can choose between 35 different purposes for your donation, such as providing food for fasters, supporting debtors and contributing to a refugee women fund. It also has a list of bank accounts for each donation type.

Gulf for Good

Gulf for Good raises funds for partner charity projects through challenges, like climbing Kilimanjaro and cycling through Thailand. This year’s projects are in partnership with Street Child Nepal, Larchfield Kids, the Foundation for African Empowerment and SOS Children's Villages. Since 2001, the organisation has raised more than $3.5 million (Dh12.8m) in support of over 50 children’s charities.

Noor Dubai Foundation

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum launched the Noor Dubai Foundation a decade ago with the aim of eliminating all forms of preventable blindness globally. You can donate Dh50 to support mobile eye camps by texting the word “Noor” to 4565 (Etisalat) or 4849 (du).

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Saturday, February 19: 10am Oman v Canada, Nepal v Philippines; 2pm UAE v Germany, Ireland v Bahrain 

Monday, February 21: 10am Ireland v Germany, UAE v Bahrain; 2pm Nepal v Canada, Oman v Philippines 

Tuesday, February 22: 2pm Semi-finals 

Thursday, February 24: 2pm Final 

UAE squad:Ahmed Raza(captain), Muhammad Waseem, Chirag Suri, Vriitya Aravind, Rohan Mustafa, Kashif Daud, Zahoor Khan, Alishan Sharafu, Raja Akifullah, Karthik Meiyappan, Junaid Siddique, Basil Hameed, Zafar Farid, Mohammed Boota, Mohammed Usman, Rahul Bhatia

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Mathieu Gallard, account manager with Ipsos, which conducted the most recent poll, said current forecasts suggested only two-thirds were "very likely" to vote in the first round, compared with a 78 per cent turnout in the 2017 presidential elections.

"It depends on how interesting the campaign is on their main concerns," he told The National. "Just now, it's hard to say who, between Macron and the candidates of the right, would be most affected by a low turnout."

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Hoffenheim v Hertha Berlin (4.30pm) 
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