Cannabis might be ingested in a plethora of possibilities, but the most popular route of administration is still via smoking or inhaling the drug. Cannabis items are usually smoked (with or without tobacco) through a pipe or in the form of a cigarette (sometimes called a ‘joint’). The pipes come in a vast array of sizes and forms but usually have long stems or add a ‘hookah-type’ water filtration system (i.e., water pipe) and are referred to as a ‘bong’. When a water pipe is utilized, cannabis smoke is cooled by the water in order to reduce its harshness and temperature, which may scald the throat (Booth, 2003).
Little reports have been conducted to the specific harms connected with smoking cannabis using a water pipe or bong. Few studies examining cannabis use, besides those concerning the medical utilisation of the drug, have differentiated between the various ways of delivery (i.e., smoking via joints or water pipes, ingesting in food) and little is well known regarding distinct administration routes, their relationship to drug use patterns, and related harms.
Recently, there has been a resurgence in popularity in the usage of hookahs or ‘shisha’ to smoke shop, particularly flavoured tobacco products. The traditional Middle Eastern water pipe has become widely smoked around the world, particularly by students and young adults. Due to the usage of healthy-sounding fruit flavouring as well as the social way it will always be used (i.e., in restaurants and cafes), it is usually regarded as a ‘safer’ option to cigarettes. Due to this recent popularity, there has been a growing amount of research conducted examining the harms associated by using the shisha.
This bulletin will examine the origin in the water pipe and what we should understand about the harms related to smoking cannabis via a bong, particularly in comparison to other routes of administration. Since the scientific studies are limited in this area, an examination of the current evidence concerning the harms connected with water pipe tobacco smoking is included along with consideration of methods this info may be used in cannabis prevention activities.
Origins in the water pipe – The usage of water in a smoking apparatus is ancient, with Persian hookahs or ‘narghiles’ illustrative examples of early smoking water pipes (Erickson, Jarvie & Miller, 1977). Within their 1997 US patent for an ‘improved smoking water pipe or bong’, the authors describe the process as follows – “… smoke through the substance being combusted is directed through a tube discharging below the surface water in a potlike container before passing therefrom via a second tube towards the mouth in the smoker.”
Where the water pipe actually originated is unclear, while there is increasing evidence to suggest that bongs were first utilized to smoke cannabis in Africa. Based on the archaeological evidence available during writing, Phillips (1983) hypothesised that cannabis was smoked in water pipes in eastern and southern Africa before the introduction of tobacco. He considered that the discovery in Ethiopia of water pipe bowls, “definitely related to the smoking of cannabis”, tends bqlsqo confirm speculation of the African origin of the water pipe. Others believe they originated in China or Persia, but in these cases the instruments were thought to be employed to smoke tobacco.
The word ‘bong’ is an adaptation from the Thai word baung, which describes a cylindrical pipe or tube cut from bamboo. One of the earliest recorded uses of the word inside the West is within the McFarland Thai-English Dictionary, published in 1944, which describes one of many meanings of ‘bong’ within the Thai language as, “a bamboo water pipe for smoking kancha, tree, hashish, or perhaps the hemp-plant.” Erickson and colleagues (1977) believe that it must be this version which has probably influenced the style of the current devices that include a “general cylindrical tubular construction”, with tubes of plastic along with other modern materials replacing the hollow bamboo stem which was used before. Their description of how this type of water pipe works is as follows:
“The oriental bong, further, provides means for using atmospheric air to dilute the smoke before inhalation, as well as provided oxygen for your combustion producing the smoke. Thus, an aura admitting orifice has become provided venting the smoke chamber formed inside the bamboo stem above the water towards the bottom from the stem. The orifice is finger controllable, so that air may on the desire of the smoker be either excluded or admitted right to the smoke chamber so as to dilute the smoke therein.”
A bong used to smoke cannabis is comparable to a conventional hookah in both construction and function, except it is almost always smaller and a lot more portable. The hole in the stem described above, often referred to as the ‘carburator’, ‘shotty’ or simply ‘hole’, is generally kept covered through the smoking process, then opened to permit the smoke to become drawn to the respiratory system so as to maximise the impact.