Harmless Hookah? Hardly

Sixty percent of participants reported first-time water pipe use at or before age 18. About one-fifth of those surveyed reported daily use, and more than half of the users stated that they owned their own water pipe, usually ordered via the Internet. More than 40 percent of users smoked 60 minutes or more at one session.

Most users were confident that they could quit easily.

More ominously, the majority of users felt that water pipe use was safer than cigarettes because the smoke passes through water before being inhaled.

But neither belief has been proven.

In fact, because water pipe use involves a greater exposure to nicotine than cigarette smoking, the likelihood of regular hookah smokers to become addicted is higher.

Furthermore, prolonged exposure to water pipe smoke increases the likelihood of health effects that have been documented in scientific studies.

There is no safe exposure to tobacco smoke. Even secondhand smoke — such as sitting in a hookah bar without smoking — increases health risks.

The most famous example of the harm of secondhand smoke comes from the "natural experiment" that occurred in Helena, Mont., after that city passed an ordinance outlawing smoking in public places. Within six months of passage of this law, heart attack rates were cut in half in this community — and rebounded to pre-ordinance rates when the law was repealed.

Not to mention the bad breath, smelly clothes, tooth staining and premature wrinkles that go along with any tobacco smoke exposure.

Harmless hookah? Romantic smoking?


Dr. John Spangler is director of tobacco-intervention programs and a professor of family medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
PHOTO: U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston stopped a would be smuggler from bringing nearly 7 ounces of cocaine into the country in tamales, Aug. 22, 2014.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Real Housewife Phaedra Parks Lists Home in Suburban Atlanta
Real Housewives of Atlanta star, Phaedra Parks, has listed her 4,000-square-foot home with 5 bedrooms and 6 baths for $340,900.
In this image from video posted on Facebook, courtesy of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, former President George W. Bush participates in the ice bucket challenge with the help of his wife, Laura Bush, in Kennebunkport, Maine.
(Courtesy George W. Bush Presidential Center/AP)