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Opinion: Why has Porsche designed a Hookah Pipe?


July 19, 2011

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We have to admit being more than a little surprised that in this increasingly health-conscious world, Porsche Design has released a new luxury Shisha waterpipe. Also known as a hookah or narghile, Shisha is becoming increasingly trendy in Western markets for "social" tobacco smokers and is already deeply embedded in African and Middle Eastern cultures.

Porsche is one of the strongest, well respected brand names in the world, synonymous not only with uncompromising engineering and innovation, but with the deepest concern and respect for the safety of its customers.

Why then would a company with such an impeccable public image create a product which is known to be so injurious to its users?

Are Porsche's brand custodians asleep, or did they think that as no-one had bothered to complain about its long term sale of Porsche pipes and cigarette lighters, that Shisha was of the same ilk?

Although the Porsche (or any other brand of) Shisha pipe unquestionably absorbs some of the nasties in the smoke it filters, smoking shisha is VERY bad for one's health, and mounting evidence suggests it is far worse for one's health than smoking cigarettes.

In 2005, a World Health Organisation study group on Tobacco Product Regulation issued a scientific advisory note on waterpipe tobacco smoking which highlighted how little is known about waterpipes and the health risks they present, and called for more research on the subject - quite an irony given that the waterpipe has been around 700 years and entered mainstream usage at the same time that tobacco did.

The WHO scientific advisory note emphasized that the smoke that emerges from a waterpipe contains numerous toxicants known to cause lung cancer, heart disease, and a range of other diseases, just as cigarette smoke does.

One of the primary issues associated with hookah smoking is that because the smoke is much "smoother" than cigarette smoke, smokers can and do inhale much greater quantities of smoke.

According to the WHO scientific advisory note, a typical waterpipe smoking session will most likely expose the smoker to more smoke over a longer period of time than occurs when smoking a cigarette. That's because typical shisha smokers inhale more often and for longer periods than typical cigarette smokers.

Cigarette smokers typically take around eight to twelve 40-75ml puffs during the five to seven minutes it takes to smoke a cigarette, inhaling on average 0.5 to 0.6 liters of smoke per cigarette.

In contrast, waterpipe smoking sessions typically last 20-80 minutes, during which the smoker may take between 50 and 200 puffs which range from about 0.15 liters to one liter each. A shisha smoker might hence inhale as much smoke in one shisha sitting, as a cigarette smoker would inhale in smoking 100 cigarettes.

One of the other key factors associated with shisha smoking is that it is often done at a venue, where the quality of the substances placed inside the pipe, the purity of the charcoal used, and the cleaning of the pipes will all vary considerably depending on the establishment. As narcotics, hashish and marijuana are also commonly used in waterpipes, it is not that uncommon for users of shisha pipes in coffee shops, bars and restaurants where there are illegal back room activities, to get a little bit more punch to their shisha than they bargained for.

One of the saddest things about the shisha culture prevalent in the Middle East and Africa is that waterpipe smoking is a family affair in many countries. Just two nights ago I witnessed a family in a restaurant share a shisha - the father, wife, and two pre-teen boys all smoked from the hookah over a half hour period.

Research indicates that the shisha does not filter out sufficient nicotine to prevent addiction, so the current perception of the waterpipe being a safe way of smoking is no doubt unwittingly addicting children to tobacco. Just how widespread this practice is cannot be established accurately, though anecdotally, it is quite commonplace.

It seems there is a very common misconception amongst those who use the Shisha pipe that it is far less injurious to one's health than cigarette smoking.

Which brings us back to the Porsche Shisha pipe. The 55 centimetre tall aluminum, stainless steel and glass waterpipe is now available exclusively at the recently opened Porsche Design shop in the Millionaires Gallery at Harrods Knightsbridge store in London.

The pipe will be available at Porsche Design stores worldwide from the end of the month at an undisclosed, though no doubt substantial price.

The Porsche Design Shisha shows only discreet branding on the aluminum top of the hookah and comes with a long flexible TecFlex tube, utilizing the same Porsche-designed material employed in its TecFlex writing tools.

I had not been aware until researching this article that Porsche has been making smoking accessories (such as cigarette cases, cigar cases, cigarette lighters and pipes) for many years, but even knowing that, I feel certain that the publicity surrounding this product will change the public's perceptions of the Porsche brand. Shisha smoking is very detrimental to your health.

Does Porsche Design's new Shisha pipe change your opinion of the brand?

We'd be interested to see your opinion in the comments.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, (Australia's largest Telco), (Australia's largest employment site),,, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon

The Poesche Brand Group/Design Group has little or nothing to do with the history of the marque\'s automotive design standards. It\'s a hustle akin to selling the Ferrari name to brand laptops in Asia.


Yes. It shows you good technologists can also be idiots. I\'m always was a Porche fan, but now I have my doubts.

Peet Smit

I clicked on the link to the article looking to read a thoughtful review/preview of a cool looking hookah that breaks with traditional design and instead found a long op-ed piece the horrors of shisha smoking and only two short paragraphs dedicated to the actual product. It was well written but it does not belong on this site and seems better suited for a personal blog or a social issues site like AlterNet. It would be like writing a review on a new gun or weapon (as you guys often do) and only focusing on how many innocent people are killed and murdered by guns every year.


I would like to concur with Underdog here. This long and extremely one-sided op-ed piece on the horrors of smoking shisha does belong on a site like Gizmag. If one must speak on the alleged travesty that is indulging in nicotine-based narcotics, please take it your personal blog and leave us with the facts on the technology that you claim to present.

Nick Ward

@Mike Hanlon: People smoke, get over it. Is it nasty and bad for people, sure but so is a lot of things. In fact it could be argued reading Gizmag is bad for us and that we would be doing better being outside or maybe just reading something else. In fact lets make a deal.I now call "Strike 1" for Gizmag and I urge others to do the same since I think we all agree we come here for "random" tech/gizmo news not some bla. bla. bla.


Oh please, stop with the editorializing. I come to see cool stuff whether it is socially acceptable to you people or not. Get off the soap box.

Facebook User

totally agree with UnderDog... \"I clicked on the link to the article looking to read a thoughtful review/preview of a cool looking hookah that breaks with traditional design and instead found a long op-ed piece the horrors of shisha smoking and only two short paragraphs dedicated to the actual product. It was well written but it does not belong on this site and seems better suited for a personal blog or a social issues site like AlterNet. It would be like writing a review on a new gun or weapon (as you guys often do) and only focusing on how many innocent people are killed and murdered by guns every year.\"\"....... Shame on you Gizmag for letting a bafoon write this article, then publish it.

Facebook User

This is an opinion piece, clearly titled as such, so those of you who are so incensed by the commentary should have averted your eyes when you read the title. Has the publication of this article somehow restricted the space available for \"worthwhile\" content on Gizmag? I think not.

That said, it would have been helpful to have seen more technical information about Porsche Design\'s hookah in the article. Does it improve the smoking experience? Are there any design elements that make it superior to traditional hookahs? Is it simpler or \"green\"? Is this a design triumph or just novel styling?


Probably the same reason they build 200 mph cars for the street- because some people have a different take on risk!


Porsche is a luxury brand. The Hookah fits in well with it\'s image. You\'re connection of Porsche to safety is not well grounded. The 911 model is a 5-decade old icon and still has it\'s engine behind the near axle. This is a distinctly UNSAFE position; it is also quite unique to this car.

You did not cite any evidence of ACTUAL damage caused by the hookah. I\'m not suggesting there isn\'t any, I\'m suggesting that it is essential that you provide evidence of ACTUAL damage, not potential. This is how you should demonstrate that \"Shisha smoking is very detrimental to your health.\"

This was a poorly thought-out article.


WOW! Well you got your head handed to you on that one Mike!

I guess there\'s quite a lot of smoker who like Porsche products, or quite a lot of gizmag readers who suck the weed.

If it\'s any consolation, as someone who father gave himself cancer by his nicotine addiction, I agree with what you said.

As for the rest of you, enjoy your stinking habit and remember your choices while your leathery lungs are desperately drawing oxygen from a mask.


Wow, Underdog was correct in his take of the article. Yes this is a tobacco product, and some don\'t fully connect hookah\'s with this, but that isn\'t the purpose of this website. Though I do appreciate some of the concern, Gizmag is supposed to look at new technology from the technological point of view. I\'ve never seen this view pushed forward so much when analyzing new military equipment. I doubt this kind of writing would ever be pushed forward when analyzing a weapon on this website. If there was no purpose to the new product then that needs to be said in the article, but I can\'t accept a simple anti-this article.


I\'d rather debate the fact that Porsche has designed something that looks more like a weedkiller sprayer - which is probably not quite as unhealthy as a shisha pipe!

And as for Porsche having \"the deepest concern and respect for the safety of its customers\", that didn\'t seem the case this morning when I crashed my 911 Turbo into a tree whilst trying to light my 908 Pipe with my PD5 lighter ;-)


As I see it, Mike has very good reasons to publish his Opinion under Health and Wellbeing. While everyone knows that people are killed by weapons and in car accidents, the risks of Hookah Pipe smoking are quite unknown. Presenting a new product and research results like this is very valuable for most readers. I am sure that the Porsche brand is hurt by being associated with harmful tobacco products.

Kenneth Palmestål

Those companies that do anything, that is found to be bad for people only care about \"cur-ching\" i.e. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ Just riding the new wave....

Thoughtfully or Thoughtless?

Smokers have fire at one end of the tobacco and an idiot at the other

Marcel Noë

Thank you Mr. Hanlon for this article. I really didn\'t know anything about water pipes before; I certainly do now.

For those complaining about the \"one-sided\" article - there is only one side to the story... the facts, which Mr. Hanlon cited. He clearly cited scientific facts regarding this practice being more injurious than cigarettes, and the health damage caused by cigarettes is a scientific fact beyond question.

In a similar situation to yrag, I took care of my father in his final months as he died from lung cancer from cigarette smoking. It\'s a shame that Porche is attempting to add a \"coolness\" factor to this health risk by attaching their name/design to lighters, pipes and now water pipes. Can the company really need the money that bad? The story of parents introducing their children to smoking was similarly repulsive.


This article is totally inappropriate for the website. I refer everyone I know and meet to this website due to the great random emerging technology discussed.

This article didn\'t change my opinion of Porsche, the same company that\'s so concerned with the safety of its customers they build 200 mph cars, but it did change my opinion of Gizmag.

Please, please, please don\'t ruin this website with more of these kinds of articles. I\'ve really enjoyed Gizmag so far.


I could have really appreciated an in depth analysis of the primary differences highlighted by the Porsche pipe as compare to the more common non-Porsche pipe. Why would I spend the extra $$$ for a Porsche? Especially if the girls aren\'t going to see me driving it.

Please, let me join with in saying: \"No more crappy, non-tech articles.\" I was really disappointed .


I\'d like to buy one! I smoke \"non-tobacco products\" daily and using a water pipe is much healthier than other methods!

Warren Gang

So, in terms of shear performance, how does the Porsche stack up to all the other pipes that have been around for centuries?

Tobacco? Big business? Editorialize?

I\'ve read the articles. They\'re growing me replacement organs and the fantastic cures and scientific breakthroughs, that we\'ll never hear about again, just keep coming.

Hey, I have an idea...Let\'s just stick to articles about technology.

People in all societies the world \'round do \'weird\' stuff. I hate \'them.\'

Don\'t get me started.


Which is more likely to end badly...driving a Porsche or smoking a Porsche?


People are angry over this article for the same reason that there has been very little to no research on the hookah/shisha, which is due to ignorance and apathy of non Western cultures and their habits. The idea that shishas are bad are based on a idiotic and ignorant deduction that smoking time (amount of puffs) determines the health risks. To be sure, shishas arent great for you, but they employ a completely different mechanism of smoke by not just filteing it at the bottom but baking it at the top. You do not smoke tobacco in shisha, you inhale its vapors, which are mostly glycerin and flavor. Furthermore, shisha tobacco is usually washed and untampered, which means is has less then 0.5 percent nicotine. And even that trace amount of nicotine is not taken into the system, because nicotine is vaporised at 300 something degrees (like in the direct burn of a cigarette) but shisha never bakes beyond 300. (For exact numbers, look it up).

Furthermore there is no reason that Porsche should not make a shisha, it has a great market considering how many Porsche owners are of Middle Eastern descent. Your article, like you is full of ignorant and latently racist blather. It and you should be removed from this site.

Hanisha Shewakramani

You can smoke tobacco in those too? Hadn\'t dawned on me. I certainly prefer to use it in my American Muscle Car though. Unfortunately, with the demise of Pontiac, we will never get the GTOBong 6.6L water pipe.


@Hanisha Shewakramani, long stretch to racism, \"bad are based on a idiotic and ignorant deduction\" would seem to be an idiotic and ignorant deduction, plenty of proof if you actually look.

Nick Rowney

All I can say is that this article has brought to my attention a very cool water pipe. Id love to get one of them!



@Johnny McGyver

\"This is an opinion piece, clearly titled as such, so those of you who are so incensed by the commentary should have averted your eyes when you read the title.\"

They changed the title after I submitted my comment, before it was something like \"Porsche designs a hookah pipe\".


Wow, you certainly pissed people off with that one! Did you forget that big tobacco has been pushing \'smokers rights\' for years, urging smokers to scream like cut pigs if their sacred rights are threatened? Besides, most of these replies likely emanated from the Phillip Morris offices. The balanced view (I.e.: Mine) is that you failed to provide enough detail about the product in question or discuss what seems to be a fairly pedestrian piece of modern design (unlike that!), and spent too long on the dangers without considering how the Hookah modifies smoke. I hafta admit I found the \'quantity of smoke\' part fascinating, but then I\'m a geek, however it was clearly a mistake to invite a particular type of comment (specifically: how bad this makes Porsche look). People, especially those who feel their opinions merit publication, will always reject that. You should rather have focussed, briefly, on how \'big tobacco\' is bullying designers, that woulda produced a very different reaction.

In the end, while I thoroughly agree with your choice of windmill, your Quixotic efforts were too narrowly directed. But then let\'s not go nuts, the article was slightly off target, that\'s all, those demanding heads are probably doing so on company time... And the company name probably rhymes with that of the great Indo-Russian chess player, Dilip Boris.

P.S: comments look way less erudite when \'speling and gramer\' are all over the shop... Im not saying perfection is required, but sheesh! What is happening to English on the electric internets??!!

Michael Oberhofer

I think that you should stop driving your car or using a bus or planes and not flush your toilet and make sure you always recycle and not buy anything wrapped in plastic, and when was the last time you went to a burger joint or drank a pop ... and the list goes on before you complain how hookah is DANGEROUS. I would rather meet a clam collected smoker than someone that complains about everything to the point where they drive everyone around them insane. AND Hookah smoking if done right many health risks can be minimized. I hate cigarettes but I do not go whining about it.

Muns Masalmeh

Reading the comments it seemed to me that the whole point was missed. I really cannot see what is gained in arguing the merits of the product per se. If it is legal in the country sold, Porche certainly has the right to design and manufacture a device for smoking.

But the big deal and something that a technology site does have an interest in, is the commercial logic in a company undertaking certain projects. Environmental products get a great deal of comment on on Gizmag even if they are just concepts, especially if the company is famous. Sometimes the concepts are ridiculous and will never see the light of day but especially if they profess to create a reduced carbon footprint, they will be reported. Mostly they have no effect on the brand, one way or the other and announcements that won\'t go anywhere still could be considered advertising for the brand, be it Toyota or whatever.

I think the design of a pipe by Porche was newsworthy simply because Porche went ahead with such a project. If memory serves me less than 20% of the western world smokes and smoking now has a very negative connotation, with a great number of people, especially ex-smokers reacting very negatively to smoking products in general. So you\'ve got to ask, what got into Porche in creating a product that is very likely to damage its brand substantially, depending on the level of publicity the product actually receives. It matters not one whit whether it is a better product. What corporation would create a product that has the potential to damage their worldwide image? All I can think of is perhaps the executives that OK\'d this product were smoking the very consumable this product can be used for.

While some brands have lent their name to many products and remained strong, others have greatly devalued their brands by allowing them to be used for products not fitting with their image. Porche seems to have gone rather mad in this case.


Why would Porche design a hookah? It\'s obvious! They assume their demographic MUST be high to spend that much on a car. Duh!


Well this Op-ed piece got me to post for the first time on Gizmag ever. While I do appreciate the authors zeal in stating an opinion on something they seem very passionate about I do not think this is the right forum or website for this type of thing.

I am not a tobacco smoker but I am a very avid in fighting this notion that people need to be protected from harming themselves. What makes us human and free (If you are free where you are reading this) is the choice to do something even if there is an inherit risk to ourselves.

If this is not the case and we need to do everything we can to minimize any danger or risk not only would we not be able to smoke tobacco or anything else from a hooka :) we should get Nerf on the phone and have them build everything out of it and lets get every fastfood chain to only serve Tofu and wheat grass shots.

Just worry about the technology and I will worry about myself and whether and how I want to use it.


Ok think about this - go and buy a weeks worth of fuel for your car - put in a steel container in your garden and set it alight.

Then go and sit down wind and inhale all crap that you dump into the atmosphere for other people to breath.

When all the fuel is finished burning, and you have sniffed it all up. Go and find a smoker and say to him

\"You are bad -I am a hero\"

The word hypocrite does come to mind when some one complains about a few puffs of tobacco and then jumps in his SUV and races off billowing thousands more liters of far more toxic gasses into the air, the question I have is...

Are you all with it? Are awake, are you thinking? or are you just complaining because you don\'t smoke or do you actually smoke? - you just dump it behind you out of your exhaust so think you don\'t - but you actually do - so leave the smokers alone - walk or cycle to work, then you can say some thing, you probably blow more smoke into the atmosphere than any smoker ever will, but you justified in telling every one else off - because you are perfect, not so?


As a former seller of tobacco products I found the article lacking of \'tech\' detail. People should also realize there is a HUGE difference between the American cigarette and pure tobacco. It\'s like comparing Coca-Cola vs. Water. Coca-Cola is over 98% water but isn\'t the same as bottled water. American cigarettes have approximately 600 added chemicals (look it up). Many are to aid the absorption of nicotine and increase shelf life. Cuban cigarettes are the \'shakes\' or leftovers of cigar production and there is very little if any additives.


Okay I feel that it is necessary to share this study I found. I (and the researchers) agree that by no means is it a safe, healthy or risk free activity. But it is far less harmful than it is being made out to be. Also compared to cigarettes it is nowhere close as far as risk. Sorry it is a bit of reading but if you are interested in the FACTS and the TRUTH there you are.

Brandon Curd

My brother smokes a pipe so I have been looking for something related to give to him for Christmas. I didn't know that Porche designed a hookah. I will definitely have to look more into this, thanks so much for sharing.

Ashely Wilson
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