Hookah lovers are known for spending hours on end puffing away on their beloved water pipes. But would these enthusiasts spend an hour smoking if they knew it was actually very dangerous?
A new study suggests that young people believe that smoking hookah is safer than smoking cigarettes. Because of this, hookah smokers will smoke their pipes for longer. The gentle flavors encourage them to inhale more smoke than a cigarette smoker would.
But a one hour water pipe session could set a smoker back the equivalent of 100 cigarettes.
Few people would claim to enjoy smoking 100 cigarettes, or five packs, in only one hour. Even fewer would claim that they do this regularly with a group of friends. The cost in terms of health alone is too heavy a burden for the average person and could result in a call from funeral director.
Most people understand that smoking cigarettes will increase their risk for plenty of long term and deadly diseases like heart disease, stroke and cancer. But few realize that hookah has these exact same long term side effects.
How could an hour of relaxed hookah smoking become the equivalent to five packs a day?
The World Health Organization released a report that found that those who indulge in hookah will take between 50 and 200 puffs during each hour of smoking.
This is compared to a mere eight to 12 average puffs that a cigarette smoker will have smoking one cigarette.
Another dangerous fact that few enthusiasts know about hookah is that small water pipes produce higher levels of carbon monoxide than cigarettes. So a person who is smoking hookah from a small, personal water pipe is inhaling more dangerous fumes than someone smoking a regular cigarette.
People are aware of the dangers of cigarettes. This awareness combined with a fuller realization of how cigarettes affect smokers and the people they love has resulted in Americans smoking fewer standard cigarettes than ever before.
The dangers of cigarettes are well noted and continually advertised by health services and governments. In Toronto they are considering banning shisha and hookah smoking in public, and that follows the province of Alberta’s decsion to also ban the practice.This is because policy makers in Canada feared that young people in their 20’s were turning to hookah smoking as a social activity without understanding the dangers behind cigarette alternatives like hookah and e-cigarettes.
Additionally, shisha tobacco has more appeal to young as it comes in a variety of flavors, such as apple and strawberry. For people from the Middle East, it is part of their culture, and for many, shisha bars represent another outlet for a cultural experience in the city, just like going to the theater a Chinese restaurant.
Indeed, even though tobacco came from the Americas, the practice of smoking hookah goes back hundreds of years. The pipe and the water pipe are old traditions stemming from the pan-Asian continent before making its way to North America in the mid-20th century.
While the use of water pipes continues to decline in the area of its origin, new hookah businesses in the United States have targeted young adults and college students. These students have shown a demonstrable decrease in the number of cigarettes they consume. But more than 40%% of students in a recent survey said that they had smoked tobacco from a water pipe.
Between the pleasant aroma, the varied flavors and the chic cafes marketed directly at young people, young people remain uninformed about the dangers of hookah.
Armed with more research, administrators and law makers could help inform young people of the risks of smoking hookah and help prevent the dangerous diseases that are often attributed only to cigarettes.
Featured photo credit: Shisha Times via flickr.com