All of a sudden (it seems), the hot new trend is hookah. That is not the New England pronunciation of a street walker, it is the water pipe used to smoke tobacco. Hookah can also be called narghile, argileh, shisha, hubble-bubble, or goza but I have no idea why.
This “overnight” sensation (and I know it’s a sensation because John Taffer did a Bar Rescue episode for a hookah bar) began several centuries ago in Persia and India. So much for overnight, unless you’re Rip Van Winkle on steroids.
Some people think smoking tobacco through a hookah is safe. In a word, they are wrong, wrong, wrong. Also, they are not right. Here are the facts.
Hookah tobacco and smoke contain toxins that can cause clogged arteries and heart disease.
None of the toxins are taken out by the water or the smoke. Allow me to repeat: None. As in, not a-one.
Hookah smokers get the same fabulous menu of dread diseases cigarette smokers get including
- Oral cancer
- Lung cancer
- Stomach cancer
- Cancer of the esophagus
- Reduced lung function
- Decreased fertility
Only they probably have an increased risk because the way it’s used, hookah smokers generally absorb more of the toxins than cigarette smokers. An average hookah session lasts an hour, which generally translates to 200 puffs (an average cigarette lasts 20 puffs) and 90,000 milliliters of smoke (500 milliliters inhaled for a cig).
The second-hand smoke is worse too since you get the smoke from the tobacco and from the charcoal that’s used as the heat source.
Hookah smoking is generally a group activity and the pipe is passed around—which means the opportunity for infection from a shared mouthpiece. Oh, good.
Here’s the truth about more hookah mythology:
- Flavored tobacco isn’t healthier.
- Electronic hookah smoking (including steam stones and hookah pens) is not healthier.
- Tobacco-based shisha and “herbal” shisha are not healthier.
- The labels and ads that claim users can enjoy the same taste from hookah without the harmful effects of tobacco are blowing smoke. Toxic smoke.
Stay smoke free, kiddo.