The initial hookahs were made for the purpose of smoking opium, and consisted of a coconut shell and tube attached to it. Knowing a few facts about smoking the hookah are definitely not going to harm your lungs in any way, so continue reading for some interesting facts.
Hookahs are cool, stylish, and are safe. Well, a little information will surely lift the off such misconceptions. Let me inform you that hookah might be cool and perfect for making a fashion statement, but they are not safe in any way. They are equally, or rather more, harmful than cigarettes.
What is a Hookah?
Hookahs are a traditional sign of aristocracy that date back centuries to countries like India and Egypt, where they were one of the most popular cultural practices. Before getting into the facts, let’s understand the concept behind a hookah. It has a slender body, usually made of glass, and is single or multi-stemmed. The beautifully crafted hookah has mainly four compartments:
- the topmost or the head, which is a bowl that contains the coal and the sheesha (tobacco)
- the bowl cover, which protects too much of air from passing through
- the hose or the pipe through which one needs to smoke the hookah
- and, the water compartment
Though there must be some other parts which add to the grandeur of the beautiful goza (hookah) as well, these are more or less the important ones.
Facts You Didn’t Know about Hookah
- When compared to one cigarette, in a hookah session of one hour, a person inhales approximately 100-200 times the smoke and about 70 times nicotine, high levels of lead, nickel, and arsenic, 20-30 times more tar, and carbon monoxide.
- Since a hookah session is usually meant for a group of people, diseases that are spread through the mouth and saliva – flu, cold, mouth herpes, etc. – can be easily spread.
- Continuous use of hookah may lead to impotence. It also leads to skin wrinkling, breathing problems and infertility.
- It is highly addictive and as harmful as chain smoking about ten cigarettes a day.
- It is foolish to think that since hookah smoke passing through water makes it less toxic, as the cancer causing chemicals present in tobacco do not get dissolved in water and do not reduce the risks of smoking.
- It takes more effort to pull through the hookah, making it deeper drags of nicotine and smoke.
- The fruity and herbal sheeshas are in no way less damaging, as these are just the added flavors (same as mint, coffee, and herbal cigarettes) and the tobacco and nicotine content is the same.
- Hookahs are much more harmful as they misguide you psychologically. Firstly, you feel that they are only an occasional practice and secondly, you think the smoke does not harm the lungs as it is filtered.
- The hookah contains about 70 different carcinogens or cancer-causing agents.
- And last but not the least, barring some countries where indoor smoking is banned, smoking hookah in public is not prohibited, though it causes similar, or rather more harm to people affected by passive smoking.
A pregnant woman inhaling hookah smoke will pass the damaging carcinogens to her baby, which can stop and harm the baby’s physical and mental growth. Harmful effects of hookah on children include lung damage, asthma, and other permanent disorders. One of the most important facts about this is that the sweet flavors of the hookah make it comfortable to inhale the smoke, so the smokers tend to pull more at the pipe (and thus pull in more carbon monoxide, tar, nicotine, arsenic, lead, etc.) with every drag.
Hookahs come in different flavors, about 250 in all and more, and has become a favorite among the hip and happening. Its popularity has increased manifold since it was first introduced to the USA. One of the most popular hangouts in every part of the country are the hookah joints and bars. Hosting social gatherings and events in these joints has become the order of the day. However, many cities have now come up with indoor smoking bans, which has hit the hookah market badly. In such places, either these bars have closed down, or have switched to tobacco-free mixtures which have less ill effects.
Tobacco-free or low tobacco concentration hookahs are becoming common nowadays. They are known to be less harmful and are made from herbal ingredients, like tea-leaf, molasses, natural stones soaked in glycerin, etc. However, the traditional shisha requires charcoal burning for the necessary smoke, and though the tobacco-content is very less, the charcoal carries the risk of exposure to harmful chemicals. It is true that these alternatives are better and can be safe as long as you are doing hookah in moderation, but one cannot deny the fact that no doctor/health care professional/dietician would recommend them. Hookah isn’t, and can never become, a part of a healthy lifestyle regime.
Whatever be the case, Hookah is as injurious to health as cigarettes, if not more. Every smoker has his/her own unique excuse for smoking, but what counts most are your efforts in suppressing those undercurrents, and coming to the surface victorious. Smoking shisha is a matter of personal choice, and therefore, one cannot be forced to start/given up on it. One should, however, do it responsibly and keeping the consequences in mind.