Is Shisha allowed in Singapore?


If you’re a fan of shisha, Singapore is not the place to indulge. Another ban revolving around tobacco, shisha – where flavour-infused tobacco is vaporised through a bong or hookah – was officially banned in Singapore in 2016. With restaurants and other businesses forced to halt any import or sale of shisha on their premises, many reminisce about the relaxing, casual atmosphere shisha brought to areas such as Arab Street, known for its traditional Muslim eateries and shops selling fabric and perfume.

Q: Why is shisha being banned while cigarettes are allowed to be sold?

A: Owing to its sweet-smelling smoke, shisha smoking is often seen as less harmful and addictive. But these misconceptions and its social nature – with people grouped around the hookah used to smoke shisha – have contributed to a rise in shisha smoking worldwide, especially among the young.

This is worrying as it may serve as a “gateway to cigarette smoking”.

Shisha is also a relatively recent development in Singapore compared to cigarettes, which are entrenched. Therefore, it is timely and necessary for to ban shisha now and prevent it from becoming entrenched in Singapore.

A single shisha smoking session is equivalent to puffing at least 100 cigarettes. The smoke, compared with cigarette smoke, contains higher levels of harmful toxicants like nicotine.

Q: How many licensed shisha retailers are there in Singapore?

A: As of last month, there were 16 shisha retailers here, located in areas such as Boat Quay and Kampong Glam. The number of licensed shisha retailers has dropped steadily over the years. There were 44 of them in 2011, and 41 in 2012. Last year, the number fell to 32 and as of last month, it was down to 16.

Q: How does the number of shisha smokers compared with cigarette smokers?

A: A 2010 National Health Survey found 2.6 per cent of adults aged 18 to 69 smoke shisha occasionally, compared with 14.3 per cent who smoke cigarettes daily.

Q: What will be done to educate the public, especially the young, about the harmful effects of shisha smoking?

A: The Health Ministry will ramp up efforts to educate the public about the harms of shisha. This will be especially targeted at the young.

It has engaged community organisations as well as schools, the ITEs, polytechnics and universities in outreach efforts. Online materials as well as printed resources on the harmful effects of shisha have been shared with them.