Hookah bars litter Coney Island Avenue in Brooklyn and draw young crowds into their smoke-filled atmospheres. Attractive, colorful glass hookah pipes and their accompanying tobacco can be easily purchased in the many Middle-Eastern grocery stores in the neighborhood as well. What most do not know is that hookah can create an addiction to nicotine and expose one to a host of other dangers.
- The Hookah is of Middle Eastern origin. It has many names. Some of them are: Shisha, Nargeela, Argeela, Goza, Lula, Lulava, Chillim, Hubbly Bubbly, and Galyam.
- A Hookah is a single- or multi-stemmed water pipe with a water chamber that vaporizes sweet, often flavored, tobacco. The smoke is filtered through water anddrawn through a rubber hose to a mouthpiece.
- Some think that Hookah is a safer alternative to cigarette smoking and that secondhand hookah smoke is less harmful than secondhand cigarette smoke. This is not true. In an hour-long smoking session of hookah, users consume about 100 to 200 times the volume of smoke than from smoking a cigarette. Hookah smoke also poses the dangers associated with second-hand smoke as, participants exhale twice as much carbon monoxide in a hookah session than cigarette smokers do.
- Hookah is not sanitary: While hookah cafes and bars provide disposable plastic mouthpieces, they may not properly clean the pipes between uses by different groups, which may put hookah pipe smokers in danger of contracting herpes, hepatitis, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases.
- Hookah is addictive: Hookah tobacco contains nicotine which affects the chemistry of the brain. Physical and psychological dependence develops, causing withdrawal symptoms when the smoker stops; including cravings, irritability, headache, difficulty sleeping, and nervousness.
- Hookah is toxic: Hookah smoke has toxic compounds, including tar, heavy metals, and cancer-causing chemicals. This type of smoking is linked to oral cancers because of the chronic irritation to the lips, tongue and mouth from exposure to tobacco toxins.
- Sometimes alcohol is added to the water. Sometimes drugs are used instead of tobacco.
- Hookah is used to target young people who are most sensitive to becoming addicted to nicotine. This is why it is so heavily advertised to students; hookah can kick-start a smoking habit.
Some of the information in this article was adapted from the following sources: CDC.gov, CapitalNewsServiceMaryland.org, HealthUSNews.com