News item

Niche tobacco awareness at Hamara

Niche tobacco products such as Gutkha, Zarda or Paan, Nasal snuff, Shisha, Biri or Beedi cigarettes have been in existence for thousands of years among populations in South America and Southeast Asia. Over time, they have gained popularity throughout the world. However, many people don't realise that these products contain tobacco and just like smoking cigarettes, they are addictive and present serious health risks.

A sensation which has rapidly grown in popularity amongst young people is the smoking of “Shisha” or the waterpipe. It has become a social occasion like going to the movies or out for a meal. Parents even allow young children to participate as they think it is a safe alternative to cigarette smoking. In fact one full shisha session can produce the same amount of smoke as up to 200 cigarettes as well as cause a number of oral cancers.

To raise awareness of the impact of using these tobacco products, and their health risks, West Yorkshire Trading Standards is working alongside NHS Leeds and Leeds City Council to support the south Asian community to make informed health choices about the use of such products.

An officer from West Yorkshire Trading Standards was at the Hamara Healthy Living Centre in Beeston to raise awareness of the harmful effects of a waterpipe, as some of the groups who attend the centre were under the impression that smoking a waterpipe was a safe alternative to cigarettes.
Graham Hebblethwaite, Chief Officer of West Yorkshire Trading Standards said: “It is essential that people are informed of the health risks associated with the use of these products. Some people are under the impression that these products are a healthy alternative to cigarette smoking, so it’s very important to hold these sessions to let people know that they are not harmless, but can lead to serious illness.”
Councillor Neil Taggart, Chair of the West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee, which oversees the work of Trading Standards, said: “A lot of people think it is only a bit of fun and has no ill effects. It’s great to see that this project is working to raise awareness of the risks of using a waterpipe to people of all ages by providing these sessions at a venue in the heart of the Beeston community.”
Starr Zaman, Health lead at Leeds Rugby / Hamara Healthy Living Centre, added: “The groups found the support and information presented pretty amazing, quashing myths and false misconceptions about Shisha and other tobacco related products. We will be developing further links with Trading Standards to offer this type of training to all our different groups we work with across the city. 
If you would like more information about specific tobacco products you can log on to
If you would like more information or would like us to deliver training sessions or workshops regarding Niche Tobacco please contact Babul Hussain at Trading Standards on 0113 393 9816 or
Anyone wanting information on support to stop tobacco use should contact Leeds NHS Stop Smoking Service on 0800 169 4219.

DATE: 19 April 2013