Many teens and young adults have traded their cigarette habit for the hookah pipe because they believe it to be less addictive and harmful. On the contrary, studies show this new trend is just a more flavorful route to lung problems and heart disease.

With restaurants, bars, and even outdoor venues continuing to banish cigarette smokers further and further to the outskirts, the hookah pipe has emerged without stigma and remains a popular social trend. This prolonged exposure is just one of many concerns that experts have with hookah smoking. In 2005, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that during an hour long hookah session, a person could inhale as much smoke as a cigarette smoker would consume in 100 cigarettes.

A hookah is a water pipe that originated in the Middle East. Special tobacco often mixed with fruit (shisha) is heated, then it passes through water before a person inhales the smoke through a tube and mouthpiece. Flavors like chocolate, mint, cherry, watermelon and more are common additives. Inhaling cherry-flavored smoke may seem like harmless fun, but the primary ingredient is still toxic. Contrary to popular belief, the carcinogens in tobacco are not filtered out when they pass through the water of a hookah.

Trading One Toxin For Another

A study published in Nursing Research notes that the majority of adults who smoke hookah (18-30) think it’s safe. This false assumption may come from studies that show hookah smoking contains less nicotine than cigarettes. While that may true, for some blends, researchers at the University of California found that carbon monoxide levels were 2.5 times higher in participants who smoked hookah pipes than those who smoked cigarettes. In addition, researchers found increased levels of benzene, which could put hookah smokers at an increased risk for leukemia.

With so many myths floating around about the no-big-deal of hookah smoking, let’s look at the facts:

Undisputed Facts of Hookah Smoking

  • Hookah smoking IS linked to lung cancer, mouth cancer and heart disease
  • Hookah smoke DOES contain high levels of toxic compounds (carbon monoxide, tar, heavy metals, cancer-causing material)
  • Hookah smokers ARE exposed to more carbon monoxide because of the deep inhalation of breath
  • Water-pipe smoking is NOT a safe alternative
  • Second hand smoke effects are exactly the SAME as cigarettes
  • Unsanitary cleansing of mouth pieces CAN lead to infection and illness
  • Water does NOT filter out harmful toxins