Hookah Health Risks
While hookahs may seem like a fun-flavored social way to get your tobacco fix, hookah smoking comes with its own health risks. Originating in ancient Persia and India, the hookah is an increasingly fashionable way to group smoke. Since the tobacco used is available in a wide variety of "flavors" (ah, the wonders of calorie-free, chocolate smoke), many users tend to forget that they are indeed still inhaling the same toxins behind the warnings printed all over cigarette cartons, and sadly enough, said toxins come with many of the same health risks.
- Smoking hookah could be gateway smoking, and get you addicted to nicotine. Because, come on, who's going to carry around a huge, unwieldy hookah all the time, and hookah cafes simply aren't that mainstream yet. So you might end up switching to ciggies in a pinch, and then making a habit (an expensive one) out of lighting up. Be serious, because according to the Centers for Disease Control, hookah smoking delivers the addictive drug, nicotine, and is as least as toxic as cigarette smoke anyway.
- Hookah smoking is toxic. According to the Centers for Disease Control (yes, no one wants to hear it), because of the way hookah pipes are smoked (lots of puffing and deep breaths), hookah smokers may be absorbing higher concentrations of the very same toxins found in cigarette smoke. Besides, one hour of hookah is equal to 100 or 200 times the smoke inhaled from a measley cigarette. This is something to consider when you're comparing it to your social smoking habit of smoking one or two cigarettes at the bar to lounging around with hummus and hookahs.
- Smoking hookah puts you at risk for cancer. Hookah smokers are at the same risk level as cigarette smokers for oral cancer, lung cancer, stomach cancer and cancer of the esophagas. The cancer-causing chemicals present in the charcoal used to heat tobacco in hookahs further increases cancer risks. Additionally, because hookah smokers smoke for a longer period of time than most cigarette smokers, they are more likely to experience irritation from exposure to tobacco juices and develop oral cancers, much like people that chew tobacco (spitoon, anyone?)
- Hookahs can be heart-breakers. The tobacco used for hookahs and the smoke produced by them contain various chemicals and toxic substances known to clog arteries and cause heart disease (really, the Centers for Disease Control can be trusted).
- You could catch something (from the hookah). Because people share hookahs, and multiple mouths in your hookah-smoking social group touch the mouth of the pipe and share the smoke, you could quite literally catch something from the hookah itself. So think twice before smoking with friends that don't practice safe-sex, or work with small children (a.k.a germ factories). Something else to think about (before inhaling, or even putting your lips on that supposedly sanitized mouthpiece) is that some bars and cafes may not clean hookah pipes properly One of the many health risks associated with hookah use is an increased risk of transmitting contagious illnesses such as tuberculosis, herpes, hepatitis and other viruses.