Here are a few resources that YHAN members created to raise awareness about the harms of hookah smoking and to encourage other young people to get involved in addressing the issue.

Clearing the Smoke – The Truth About Smoking Hookah

Free double-sided 16.5 cm x 11.5 cm (6.5 inch x 4.5 inch) print resource card for youth on the health effects of smoking hookah/shisha.

To order, call Toronto Public Health at 416-338-7600.

YHAN Hookah Take Action Toolkit

Most recently, the YHAN has been interested in the topic of hookah smoking. It has become an increasingly popular trend among young people, yet many are misinformed about its safety. To address this issue, we created a number of educational resources for our peers, and advocated for legislation changes to protect the public from second hand smoke exposure.

This toolkit is a compilation of the educational resources we created, as well as the strategies we used to influence local bylaws. It is intended to help other individuals, groups, and organizations who are interested in taking action on hookah smoking through similar activities.

The hookah infographic postcard contains eye-catching visuals and clear, concise information on the harmful effects of hookah smoking. Infographics are a wonderful way to convey information in a succinct, direct manner and due to its size and portability, it can easily be shared with the general public. To order print copies of the postcard, call Toronto Public Health at 416-338-7600.

A True/False quiz is an effective and engaging way to address common misconceptions that people may have regarding hookah use and its harmful effects. It is an excellent resource to use at community events since it engages the public and serves as an interactive learning tool. To encourage participation, prizes could be made available.

Test your knowledge with a quiz about hookahs’ harmful effects

The Street Buzz video is a short montage of interviews with young people in downtown Toronto to explore their knowledge and opinions on hookah smoking. The video highlights a general lack of awareness about the harms of hookah smoking and can be used to show the need for more public education and policies to protect the public from second-hand hookah smoke exposure.

The “Be Informed” Public Service Announcement (PSA) is a short video recreating the setting of a hookah lounge, to inform youth about the harms of hookah smoking and dealing with pressure from peers to engage in the practice.

The “Be Informed” Public Service Announcement (PSA) is a short video recreating the setting of a hookah lounge, to inform youth about the harms of hookah smoking and dealing with pressure from peers to engage in the practice. What better way to get your messages out to the youth masses than through social media? We took advantage of the large following of the “Be Your Best Self” Facebook and Twitter (@bybsTO) accounts to communicate our key messages out about the harms of hookah smoking. Using engaging posts with pictures and unique hashtags such as “#Knowyoursmoke” and “#BeInformed”, we reached over 485 people with eight Facebook posts during our social media campaign! Below we have included a few sample Facebook posts and tweets that the group has created and used in the past.

Sample Facebook Posts

7-Day Series: “7 Alternatives to Smoking Hookah”

  1. Similar to cigarette smoking, hookah smoking increases your risk of heart disease and lung cancer. Why not increase your energy and reduce stress instead by exercising with your friends
  2. Instead of meeting friends at hookah lounge, why not spend a fun evening without the smoke at a board game café?
  3. Or why not check out other cool places like the mall or a Blue Jays game? There’s nothing better than hanging with friends and not having your hair or clothes smell like smoke!
  4. Sure, spending $15 at a hookah cafe may not sound like a lot, but why not save that precious cash and do something free?! Check out one of the city’s many FREE parks and beaches in the great outdoors!
  5. Ugarsay anecay agassebay (translation, sugar cane bagasse). Tired of decoding the ingredient list in pig latin on hookah packaging? It’s way easier to curl up to a good book or start a book club with your friends!
  6. Inhaling fruity flavours from hookah smoke only masks the harmful toxins that are present. You know what’s actually great to consume? Real fruits! Grab your friends and get out to a local farmers’ market!
  7. Lastly, no one wants to risk contracting infectious diseases like tuberculosis, hepatitis and herpes. Rather than sharing a hookah mouthpiece or hose which may not be cleaned properly, why not share a hug?

Sample Tweets

  1. Fact: Water in a hookah does not filter toxins from the smoke. #KnowYourSmoke #Beinformed
  2. You wouldn’t use a charcoal BBQ indoors? #KnowYourSmoke #Beinformed
  3. Even herbal shisha releases tar when burned #KnowYourSmoke #Beinformed
  4. Hookah lounges do not have regulations for how they clean their hookahs #KnowYourSmoke #Beinformed
  5. Hookah smoking is not a healthier alternative to cigarette smoking. #KnowYourSmoke #Beinformed
  6. As well as cancer, tobacco smoke can cause heart and lung disease. #KnowYourSmoke #BeInformed
  7. First time youth smokers are picking up a hookah more often than cigarettes. #KnowYourSmoke #Beinformed
  8. At a hookah cafe with your friends but not smoking? 2 hours in a T.O. hookah cafe is like smoking 10 cigarettes. #KnowYourSmoke #BeInformed
  9. Like cigarettes, tobacco shisha contains nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide, & heavy metals like arsenic & lead. #KnowYourSmoke #BeInformed
  10. Tobacco-free hookah? T.O. hookah bars have been found with high nicotine levels in the air #BeInformed #KnowYourSmoke

We completed several activities with the goal of helping young people make informed decisions about hookah smoking, but we recognized that more could be done to limit a person’s exposure to second-hand hookah smoke in public spaces. To support this, we decided to make a deputation to the Toronto Board of Health. A deputation is a short presentation to a group of decision makers, communicating one’s position and recommendations on a particular topic, and they can lead to bylaw changes and even bylaws being created.

The first step in our deputation process was recognizing that we could provide a unique perspective on the issue as young people interested in health, and that was therefore the position we should be speaking from.

From there we engaged in research to better understand the context of the issue (i.e., rates of use among young people, cultural influences, harms associated with the practice and lack of awareness about the harms, what other communities had done to address the issue, etc.). We reviewed different resources like articles by topic experts and the official Board of Health report on hookah smoking.

We then used the information we gathered to define the issue from our perspective, why we cared about it, and what actions we believed the Board of Health should take to address it. This was compiled into a presentation that would engage the board members, highlighting relevant facts, results of our informal research, and through discussing our own experiences with the issue. Check out the YouTube clip of a deputation members of YHAN made in June 2015.