Egypt cancels planned 'Battle of Hookahs'

By Hagar al-Dosoki, Friday, April 25, 2014

The cancellation came one day after the Health Ministry threatened to take legal action against the event's organizers for breaching a World Health Organization agreement

The cancellation came one day after the Health Ministry threatened to take legal action against the event's organizers for breaching a World Health Organization agreement

CAIRO – Egyptian authorities have cancelled a planned international hookah (water pipe) tournament that the country had been due to host for the first time, the organizing company said Friday.

The cancellation came one day after the Health Ministry threatened to take legal action against the event's organizers for breaching a World Health Organization agreement banning the advertisement and promotion of tobacco products.

"We decided to cancel the tournament… It's our decision, although we can't but help feeling pressured after the Health Ministry rejected the tournament," an official with the company organizing the event told Anadolu Agency.

"This is the first time we have faced this problem; we know we will face consequences, including financial ones, due to this decision," he said.

Twenty hookah aficionados had already registered to take part in the two-day event, which had been scheduled to be held at a Cairo conference hall.

A panel of experts had been due to evaluate competitors on best hookah design, presentation of hookah charcoal and tobacco quality.

Hookah smoking has gone from being an elite Middle Eastern pastime in the nineteenth century to a common local custom and favored tourist experience across the region – especially in Egypt, where hookahs are locally known as "shishas."

Numerous medical studies have found that hookahs pose the same health risks as does cigarette-smoking.

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