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Think smoking hookah is healthier than cigarettes? Think again!

 

Last updated 9/25/2008 at Noon



Since the 1990s, young adults have been looking for alternatives to smoking cigarettes, and one of the trendiest alternatives is smoking hookah.

Smoking hookah consists of using a water pipe to smoke a filtered fusion of tobacco, fruit flavors and molasses fired by charcoal. It has been a social custom in India, Asia, the Middle East and Turkey for several centuries.

While young people may not find cigarette smoking appealing because of the harsh flavor, they appear more willing to try smoking hookah because the tobacco is sweetened and flavored, and the sweet smell and the taste of the smoke is easier to inhale than regular cigarette smoke.

It is popularly believed that because hookah smoke is filtered through water in order to be inhaled, it has less toxicants, tar and nicotine than other tobacco products, thus making it a ‘safer’ option.

However, in a study done by the World Health Organization, which directs and coordinates international health matters, hookah-smoking contains “numerous toxicants known to cause lung cancer, heart diseases and other diseases” and has been linked to cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Hookah smoking sessions typically last 20 to 80 minutes, as opposed to the five to seven minutes taken for a cigarette smoking session. During this time, hookah smokers inhale as much smoke during that one session as a cigarette smoker would inhale consuming more than 100 cigarettes.

And while the water used to smoke hookah does absorb some of the nicotine that water pipe smokers inhale, the smokers are still exposed to a sufficient dose of nicotine, making hookah smoking “at least as addictive as cigarette smoking.”

Additionally, the toxic substances in hookah, such as carbon monoxide, heavy metals, tar and other carcinogens, do not dissolve in the water pipe; in fact, hookah smokers inhale 36 times the tar and eight times the carbon monoxide that a cigarette smoker would inhale in one session.

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