Parents all over the UK are getting alarmed over what is reportedly the newest craze among teenagers: the shisha pen. Even if they aren’t quite the same as smoking, the idea of teenagers purchasing and using devices which look and feel like a form of smoking has many parents concerned.
These pens go for less than ten pounds and can be obtained very easily over the Internet. They are available in several colours and since they look similar to normal pens can be concealed easily. They produce flavoured water vapour which has to be inhaled. Most of these pens do not have nicotine, but there is no regulating body to enforce the ‘no nicotine’ rule.
Since shisha pens are relatively new to the market, they haven’t been properly regulated yet, which leaves open the possibility of unscrupulous manufacturers adding addictive substances like nicotine to the pens in order to foster addiction.
Parents are concerned over how easy it is for children to buy the pens. They come in many different flavours, all geared towards attracting schoolchildren.
Parents’ main concern is that shisha pens seem like the perfect gateway drug to cigarettes. They are also worried about the health effects of the pens since there have been no major tests done on them so far. However, it does logically seem unhealthy to smoke huge amounts of anything, be it water vapour or manufactured smoke.
Students said that shisha pens have become fashionable and that ‘everyone is using them’.
There is no lower age limit for buying shisha pens, but some sellers refuse to sell them to people who are under eighteen years old. Although the government has introduced new legislation disallowing sales of products like e-cigarettes to minors, there is still much to do. Many schools do not have policies against such items, which makes the situation all the more alarming.
Shisha pens and e-cigarettes work more or less the same way. The main difference between the two is that most pens do not contain nicotine, which reduces the addictiveness of the pens. However, if manufacturers include nicotine in the pens, children can become addicted to them the same way they can become addicted to e-cigarettes or cigarettes.
Agencies around the UK want to regulate shisha pens and e-cigarettes the same way that medicines are regulated. This would put the products under great scrutiny and would allow unregulated products to be discovered and confiscated more easily.
Another concern is that the exact components vary from pen to pen. The most common ingredients are fruit flavouring, propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine and water. While the ingredients may be safe to swallow, they may not be safe to inhale, especially for children since their lungs are not fully matured and can get damaged more easily.
A few medical practitioners are putting the craze to good use by recommending shisha pens to hardcore smokers who are trying to quit smoking. Since the pens are less harmful than cigarettes and are also not addictive, they can help the smokers get over their addiction.