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Increased risk of COVID 19 infection in ‘hubbly bubbly’ smokers versus non-smokers


Smoking the hubbly bubbly (hookah, waterpipe) increases a person’s risk of both bacterial and viral infections. This is especially important to note as the COVID-19 disease plagues the world and infection rates in South Africa continue to rise. Smoking cigarettes and the hubbly bubbly is bad for your health and those around you. Second-hand smokers are as much at risk as smokers as it causes numerous health problems in infants and children, including more frequent and severe asthma attacks, respiratory infections, ear infections and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

The Garden Route District Municipality Executive Manager for Community Services, Mr Clive Africa, warns the public of risks relating to COVID-19 and smoking the hookah pipe. He urges the public to avoid smoking at all costs and also said that we must not forget about the dangers of passing around or sharing a hubbly bubbly.

“Although we are all supposed to be in isolation, a hubbly bubbly is often still shared among a group of people. This is dangerous, because it can aid in transmitting diseases like hepatitis, herpes simplex (fever blisters), tuberculosis and also the COVID-19 disease, which is spread by droplets.”

Smoking a hubbly bubbly and sharing it with others create the risk of being infected with coronavirus. Various countries have already banned the use of hookahs in public places to prevent the spread of the virus. Garden Route District Municipality urges everyone to avoid smoking cigarettes and the hookah, in line with this international trend.

How does a hubbly bubbly get contaminated with infectious microorganisms?

The risk of transmission of infectious agents through smoking a hubbly bubbly is high because mouth pieces are shared between smokers who pass around microorganisms, including COVID-19. Some smokers cough into the hoses, and the moisture in tobacco also promotes the survival of microorganisms inside the hubbly bubbly’s hose. The cold water in the chamber of the hubbly bubbly may facilitate the survival of COVID-19.

More scary facts:

  • The nicotine content in a hubbly bubbly’s smoke is equivalent to that of 200-300 cigarettes smoked per day, demonstrating a very high potential for addiction.
  • In general, hubbly bubbly smokers are exposed to 100 to 200 times the volume of smoke compared to those smoking a cigarette.
  • There is a myth that hookah smoking is safer than smoking cigarettes because the smoke passes through water to filter out all the “bad stuff”. However, research has shown that hookah smokers receive more carbon monoxide (CO), nicotine and smoke than cigarette smokers.
  • Due to the frequency of puffing, depth of inhalation, and length of smoking, hookah smokers inhale higher levels of toxins.


Herman Pieters

Rolina Vorster

Owner at News Everyday & CEO at DeodataDigital.