A hookah is a pipe of water used to smoke tobacco through cooled water. Hookah is a tradition of 500 years started in Middle East regions of the world. For Turkish it is the most popular and oldest traditions to smoke Hookah.
This tradition traveled from Turkish to Unites states and now also to India in last one decade. Hookah is also called narghile, argileh, shisha, hubble-bubble, andgoza. So lets dig deep into health effects of hookah and hookah vs cigarettes.
Some people have misconception that smoking Hookah is a bit healthier than smoking regular cigarettes.
Yes!!!! Do you know that Hookah smoke contains higher levels of lead, nickel, arsenic and 36x times more tar and 15x times more carbon monoxide that cigarettes.
Reason being Hookah requires much longer drags or puffs which increases the inhalation of nicotine and carcinogens in lungs. So longer the hookah session lasts the more you are exposed to these harmful substances.
Smoking hookah for 45-60 minutes will give you same amount of tar and nicotine almost equal to one whole packet of cigarette.
In a study published by the World Health Organization, it was found that an average cigarette smoker takes 8 to 12 puffs, and inhales about 0.5 to 0.6 liters of smoke over the span of five to seven minutes. A hookah smoker in comparison may take anywhere from 20 to 200 puffs with each puff equaling about one liter of smoke each. This means that one hookah smoking session can equal 40 to 400 cigarettes.
If incase you do not smoke hookah but you be around with friends who smoke, still you can expect some amount of tar and nicotine inhaled by your body. This is called passive smoking or second hand smoke.
If you choose to smoke also keep in mind to use your personal mouth piece as using same mouthpieces without washing, it can increase the risk of flu, infections and may also lead to oral herpes.
Traditional Hookah Vs Flavored Hookah Vs Cigarette
Flavors of hookah are now available without tobacco but it yet contains other chemicals for creating smoke of it. So Put down your pipes and say No to any kind of smoking.
Cigarette smoke is generated by burning tobacco, while hookah smoke is produced by heating tobacco in a bowl using charcoal. The end product is the same—smoke, containing carcinogens.
MYTH #1: Hookah smoke is filtered through water so it filters out harmful ingredients and is safe
TRUTH #1: Smoking tobacco through water does not filter out carcinogenic chemicals. Even water-filtered smoke can damage the lungs and heart similar to cigarette smoke.
MYTH #2: Inhaling hookah smoke does not inflame the lungs. So it is absolutely healthy
TRUTH #2: The hookah smoke is cooled through the water in the base of the hookah and hence does not inflame the lungs when inhaled. Cooling of smoke will not alter the content of carcinogens in it
MYTH #3: Herbal Hookah is healthier than regular Hookah.
TRUTH #3: Just like smoking herbal or “natural” cigarettes, herbal Hookah exposes the smoker to tar and carcinogens.
MYTH #4: Smoking hookah cannot be an addiction because it lacks nicotine
TRUTH #4: Hookah does contain nicotine
MYTH #5: Flavor hookah tobacco contains fruit, so it is healthier than regular tobacco.
TRUTH #5: If you mix fruit juice with alcohol it will still be called as hard and unhealthy drink. Similarly Tobacco is tobacco, no matter what. For flavouring of hookah is often soaked in molasses or honey and mixed with fruit, but it still contains same amount of cancer-causing chemicals and nicotine.
MYTH #6: Smoking hookahs are healthier than smoking cigarettes.
TRUTH #6: Hookah smoke is just as dangerous as cigarette smoke.
Health Effects of Hookah
Hookah smokers absorb higher amount of tar and nicotine as it is smoked for a longer duration and
Hookah smokers absorb higher concentrations of the toxins found in cigarette smoke, thus increasing the hazard to the body. Hookah tobacco and smoke contain numerous toxic substances known to cause lung, bladder, and oral cancers. A typical one-hour hookah session smoking exposes the user to 100 to 200 times that is inhaled from a single cigarette.
Hookah smoking results in clogged arteries and heart disease
Danger of second hand smoke
Passive smokers or the second hand smokers also have serious risk factors as they inhale smoke and also the heat from charcoal
Periodontal (gum tissue) disease
Due to the presence of nicotine in the hookah smokers, it is present in saliva, blood plasma, urine of the smoker which badly affects the gum/ periodontal tissue.
Prone to infections
Infections are mostly caused by the exchange of mouth pipes. We cannot expect the hookah bars to thoroughly clean the pipes. Few common infections caused are TB, aspergillus which affects the lungs, Helicobacter causes stomach ulcers..
Hookah and Hookah smoking deliver almost the same amount of nicotine as cigarettes do, leading to nicotine addiction
Low birth weight babies with pregnant women smoking Hookah
Hookah has ability to pass through your placenta and reach your womb to your baby. So imagine how harmful it would be for a expecting mother to smoke hookah. It is seen that mothers who smoked hookah during pregnancy have lower birth weights (were at least 3½ ounces less) than babies born to non-smokers and are at an increased risk for respiratory diseases.
Some effects of Hookah also includes: Wrinkled skin, sexual impotence, etc.
Smoking hookah to hang around with friends, past time hobby, social event, bonding session is your choice. But the consequence of hookah is bad if it is a regular thing on your lifestyle list. It is a ticket to slow killing. It is a slow poison.
Educating Youth About the Dangers
According to a study published in PCD entitled Opportunities for policy to reduce youth hookah smoking in United States one way to reduce youth hookah use is by educating young people about the harmful health effects associated with hookah smoking. There should be warning labels on tobacco products and advertisements.
The WHO’s Study Group on Tobacco Product Regulation (TobReg) urges consideration of the following public health initiatives to reduce hookah smoking and associated disease:
- Education of health professionals, regulators, and the public at large is urgently needed about the risks of hookah smoking, including high potential levels of second-hand exposure among children, pregnant women, and others.
- Hookahs and hookah tobacco should be subjected to the same regulations as cigarettes and other tobacco products.
- Hookahs and hookah tobacco should include strong health warnings.
- Claims of harm reduction and safety should be prohibited.
- Misleading labeling, such as “contains 0 MG tar,” which may imply safety, should be prohibited.
- Waterpipes should be included in comprehensive tobacco control efforts, including prevention strategies and cessation interventions.
- Hookahs should be prohibited in places consistent with bans on cigarette and other forms of tobacco smoking.
Smoking cigarettes is harmful, then hookah smoking is only worse.
Let us know what you feel about health effects of hookah and what do you consume more hookah or cigarettes?
RD Neha Kava
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Good article. Must be told to all youngsters hooked on hookka.