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Is Hookah Bad for You?

Although it is still unsure whether smoking hookahs is better, worse, or equivalent to cigarette smoking, we cannot deny its possible ill effects.
Sheetal Mandora Apr 7, 2019
A more new concept for the West, complete truth is still not out yet. What are health risks of smoking hookah? Can it cause lung cancer? Does it have similar harmful effects like cigarettes? Or worse? People who smoke hookah tend to claim that it is less risky than cigarettes. But how can we be completely sure if smoking hookah is safer or just plain safe?
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that just like cigarettes, even hookah smoking can increase risk of cancer in its users. Which is why, to understand what happens when we smoke hookah, we have collected the following information for you.

Hookah - A New Trend in the West

According to the CDC, smoking hookah is quickly becoming a new fad among the youth. As the west is a huge melting pot, more and more Middle Eastern restaurants and shops are facilitating artistically-designed hookah to the public. The hookah, similar to any water pipe, is stuffed with shisha (flavored tobacco) and can be smoked legally.
Also, some of the restaurants and lounges lure people with exotic belly dancers performing while they're there. This gains incredible popularity for introducing the youth to 400 year old traditional practice of offering hookah and drinks.
Restaurants in Miami, Los Angeles, Seattle, New York, and other states have elegant settings and ambiance for its patrons to obtain this "addiction". But do people realize that in order to experience this new fad, are they thinking of the health risks or just going with the flow?

Can We Defend Smoking Hookah?

People who have become regular users of hookah, try to defend it as much as possible. Yes, enough research and studies have not been done on the harmful effects of smoking, but we can't just rule out the fact altogether.
For some, due to misleading facts on the Internet and by other hookah promoters, hookah is a healthier alternative to smoking cigarettes. Considered to give a unique kind of high, more and more people are becoming accustomed to it.
According to the Nicotine Dependence Center, Richard D. Hurt, M.D. says "hookah smoking is not safer than cigarette smoking". So what puts hookah in a questionable position? The tobacco is made specially, it then gets heated on the smoke chamber, and the smoke then passes through the water.
You draw the smoke through the rubber hose and from the mouthpiece, and you get to enjoy a unique style of smoking. The tobacco is a bit toxic in the hookah pipe as the water doesn't filter the toxins out of the smoke.
A person can in fact inhale more tobacco smoke from hookah than smoking cigarettes. The reason behind it is that in hookah, a person generally tends to inhale large volume of smoke (in one session) than cigarettes. A session of hookah can last up to an hour or more; so you do the math.

Dangers of Smoking Hookah

CDC compiled a list of 12 possible side effects of smoking hookah and came up with the conclusion that it can lead its users to nicotine dependency and increase their risk of getting lung cancer. The presence of carbon monoxide and cancer-causing chemicals are root causes of developing lung cancer and heart disease.
If you're still wondering if in fact there are negative health risks by smoking hookah, then perhaps the following points can give you a better perspective.
  • Similar to cigarette smoking, there are various health risks which include lung and oral cancers, heart troubles, emphysema, shortness of breath, chronic cough, and other illnesses.
  • Apart from carbon monoxide and cancer-causing chemicals such as carcinogens, the smoke from the hookah also contains tar and heavy metals.
  • In case of pregnant ladies, as smoking cigarettes is harmful for the mother-to-be and her unborn baby, smoking hookah while pregnant (or passive smoking) may result in low birth weight babies.
  • Smoking hookah on a regular basis can also be connected to secondhand smoke; an unknown fact for many users.
  • Some hookah bars and lounges don't necessarily clean the pipes properly. This can be a possible risk of spreading infectious diseases.

Origin of Hookahs

During the 15th century, hookah was created in India. Hookah was looked upon as a status symbol for many Indian aristocrats and gentry. It quickly became a great tradition and still is, followed by Jats, Rajputs, Bishnois, and many more.
Later on, it was sent out to Middle East and spread throughout Iran, Turkey, and Egypt. Considered to bring pleasure while smoking with the water pipe, hookah is still part of many cultures around the world. Hookah is also known as "narghile", "shisha", and "goza" around the world.
Today, it has become a visible part of the western culture as well, as many hookah lounges are being introduced to young men and women. Although hookahs are a different kind of smoking activity (besides cigarettes) and they don't have the same type of tobacco as cigarettes do as well.
Even though after reading and/or hearing about the ill effects of smoking hookah, you wish to continue to go on with your addiction, the choice will finally be your responsibility. All adults are given the privilege to make their own decisions, which means it should be a sensible one where they get to choose the path of life accordingly.