The use of tobacco is centuries old. It is smoked, eaten, chewed and sniffed. We are obviously talking about drug use here, and addiction. One way it is smoked is with a device called a hookah. Smoking tobacco in a hookah is a practice that dates back to the early 16th century in the Middle East.
A hookah is a device that super-heats flavored tobacco and passes the resulting smoke through water and it is then inhaled by the smoker by means of a tube.
Nicotine is the drug in tobacco and it is delivered in greater amounts in hookah smoke than in cigarette smoke. Hookah smoke also contains high levels of toxic compounds, including tar, carbon monoxide, heavy metals and other cancer-causing chemicals
Because of how it is done, smoking tobacco by hookah can deliver more toxins than smoking cigarettes. In fact, a one-hour long hookah session involves inhaling 100-200 times the volume of smoke inhaled from just one cigarette.
Another important factor in the toxicity of smoking hookah is the charcoal used to heat the tobacco. Made from cherry wood, or coconut shells and various other materials, chemicals from the burning charcoal are inhaled by the smoker along with the smoke from the tobacco. Few studies have been done on the chemicals these charcoals produce, let alone their effects on the smoker’s health.
As would be expected, because of the greater amounts of smoke delivered by the hookah than the cigarette, the smoker also receives:
· Higher amounts of carbon-monoxide, a poisonous gas that is also produced in gasoline engines.
· Greater amounts of carcinogenic materials like heavy metals
· More tar than in cigarette smoke
According to the Centers for Disease Control, hookah smokers are at risk for the same kinds of diseases as are caused by cigarette smoking, including oral cancer, lung cancer, stomach cancer, cancer of the esophagus, reduced lung function, and decreased fertility.
The CDC also states that numerous toxic chemicals that are known to cause clogged arteries and heart disease are contained in hookah smoke as well.
Hookah smoking is NOT a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes.
Thanks to years of research and advertisement regarding the dangers of smoking tobacco, it is pretty common knowledge that smoking cigarettes or cigars is dangerous. Unfortunately, there haven’t been many public awareness campaigns on the similar dangers of using hookahs. We are seeing the popularity of hookah bars or shisha cafés going right through the roof. This is also pulling in a new following with younger people.
But the addiction potential of hookah is very real. Using nicotine is dangerous in any form and regardless of whether the route onto nicotine addiction is through smoking cigars, cigarettes or hookah, in the end, we have the same problem.
The addict can’t carry a pack of hookahs around in a shirt pocket, so for sheer convenience, switching to cigarettes is an obvious choice.
Hookah smoking as a social event.
The routes onto addiction to nicotine are many, but there is always some social component that attracts the new users. Some of the attractions of hookah smoking are exactly the same as those that have been used to attract young people to cigarettes, cigars and pipes for many, many years.
· The older kids are doing it
· It looks cool
· The group is into it
· It looks like fun
· It shows up on TV or in the movies (And now on the internet.)
· The parents probably don’t approve (rebel factor)
· It looks grown-up
One more liability of indulging in hookah parties or cafes is that the hose that delivers the smoke is usually passed from smoker to smoker. This increases the chances of contracting communicable diseases for everyone who passes the hose.
In the end, our responsibility to spread the truth about the dangers presented by hookah smoking is the same as with any other public threat. The more people understand, the better their choices are going to be.