You know how people always say that smoking hookah is not as harmful as smoking cigarettes? Well, they’re wrong. Inhaling that strawberry-scented tobacco with your friends is actually worse than smoking cigarettes.
According to an article on Forbes.com that examines the health effects of hookah, it’s a common misconception that the water used in a hookah (sometimes called shisha) filters the tobacco:
The water within the hookah in no way acts as a filter for the toxic components in the tobacco smoke, and the tobacco in a hookah pipe is just as toxic as tobacco contained in a standard cigarette. It turns out that hookah smokers may actually inhale larger volumes of tobacco smoke–in part, as a result of inhaling deeper, and smoking for longer periods of time (up to 60 minutes a session).
That information comes from a recent study, published this past August in Respirology. The study found that:
“…hookah smoking had similar effects on lung function and respiratory symptoms (chest tightness, coughing, and wheezing) in water pipe smokers and deep inhalation cigarette smokers.”
The study also found that hookah tobacco is just as carcinogenic as the tobacco in cigarettes.
I doubt this information will have any effect on the popularity of hookah bars here in the United States, but it’s still important to consider. Smoking hookah is fun because of its chilled-out, bohemian vibe, not to mention the fact that it’s a social activity. But that social aspect can actually make it considerably worse for you: ever considered all those germs lurking on the shared mouthpiece? Yep, pretty gross and pretty bad for your health. That’s in addition to all the gunk you’re taking into your lungs along with the pungent smoke. And now we know for sure: the effects of hookah smoking are just as bad, if not worse, as indulging in cancer sticks.
Photo: Courtesy of Flickr user surricata