Are the Effects of Hookah Worse than Cigarettes?
Hookah bars and cafes have been popping up all over the US in recent years. It’s known to be a social activity in college, and is highly popular due to common knowledge that “smoking hookah is not as harmful as smoking cigarettes.” Unfortunately, it’s time to bust this myth. To all the Hookah Heads out there, let us break some news to you: recently released research finds the effects of hookah worse than cigarettes.
According to an article published on Forbes today that examines the health effects of hookah, it’s actually quite the common misconception that the water used in hookah (i.e. shisha) filters the tobacco:
The water within the hookah in no way acts as a filter for the toxic components in the tobacco smoke, and the tobacco in a hookah pipe is just as toxic as tobacco contained in a standard cigarette. It turns out that hookah smokers may actually inhale larger volumes of tobacco smoke–in part, as a result of inhaling deeper, and smoking for longer periods of time (up to 60 minutes a session).
This might be especially surprising news for individuals who took to smoking hookah as a frequent social activity for several reasons, including ease of access, a chill bohemian atmosphere, and affordability. (It’s certainly cheaper than drinking a few mixed drinks in a NYC bar, I can tell you that.)
A study published in Respirology only a couple weeks ago discovered that smoke from the hookah pipe contains high levels of carbon monoxide, tar, heavy metals and other known carcinogens — just as high as cigarette smoke.
And let’s not get started on how much nicotine is in hookah. (Hint: just as much as nicotine in cigarettes.) From Forbes:
Just as with cigarette smoking, hookah smoking is associated with increased risk for heart disease, oral and lung cancers, and other vascular-related disease.
Bottom Line: There are still a ton of cigarette smokers out there, so I doubt this news will hinder the growing popularity of hookah bars. But consider the lingering germs in those shared mouthpieces. It’s like making out with the entire room, not just one other person. I’m grossed out, how about you?