Water pipe tobacco smoking is increasing in prevalence worldwide; in the United States, 10-20% of some young adult populations are current water pipe users. Young people view hookah smoking as safer than smoking cigarettes and incorrectly believe that hookah smoke has less nicotine and is less toxic than cigarettes because of the filtering mechanism of the water in the base of the hookah.
A new review has reported that hookahs like other forms of smoking tobacco have been considered a health risk for various isolated diseases including COPD, certain cancers, infectious diseases and others.
Dr. Tracy Barnett, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Florida and not involved in this new review related to Reuters, “The cooled and sweetened flavor of hookah tobacco makes it more enticing to kids and they falsely believe it’s less harmful.” One-time use can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning or other diseases, including but not limited to tuberculosis, herpes, respiratory illnesses including the flu, and long-term use can lead to heart disease and many cancers.”
The hookah is a snuff smoking device whose origin dates back to the fifteenth century, has been used extensively in the Middle East in recent decades has become popular in Western culture countries, particularly in Americas and Europe.
According to the new review not only has hookah smoking considered a health risk for various diseases, it can lead to addiction and is also used for inhaling other addictive substances. In pregnant women has been reported that there use condition a diminution on fetal growth and different diseases in the newborn. Also noted in the review was that hookah smoke contains several toxic substances that can affect both, the primary and the passive smoker.
In 2012, a study completed by the CDC had found on the basis of research on youth cigarette smoking that young people view hookah smoking as safer than smoking cigarettes and incorrectly believe that hookah smoke has less nicotine and is less toxic than cigarettes because of the filtering mechanism of the water in the base of the hookah. However, on the CDC website “The Dangers of Hookah Smoking” hookah smoke contains many of the same harmful toxins as cigarette smoke and has been associated with lung cancer, respiratory illness, low birth weight, and periodontal disease.
According to a report from WHO (world health organization) hookah smoking lasts much longer than cigarette smoking. Cigarette smoking typically takes five to seven minutes however, hookah smoking typically lasts 20 to 80 minutes a session with the smoker inhaling the same amount of smoke that would be produced by 100 cigarettes. A typical one-hour long hookah session involves about 200 puffs, compared to an average of 20 puffs per cigarette.
In a 2013 study titled “Comparison of Tobacco-Containing and Tobacco-Free Water pipe Products: Effects on Human Alveolar Cells” had compared the effects of smoke generated using tobacco-free and conventional tobacco-derived products on human alveolar cells. Smoke was generated using a smoking machine that precisely mimicked the puffing behavior of 15 experienced water pipe smokers when they used conventional water pipe tobacco products of their choice and flavor-matched tobacco-free products. The results showed smoke from hookah pipe slows down and stunts lung production regardless of the type of tobacco (regular or tobacco-free).
Dr. Adrienne J. Heinz, PhD, researcher of alcohol and drug use patterns at the Stanford University School of Medicine, related to Reuters “In casual conversations with friends and patients, folks often appreciate that smoking anything comes with risks.” “However, hookah is certainly viewed as more benign, and when you share general facts about toxin exposure in one hookah session, it often shocks and surprises them.” “There is also the misconception that because hookah sessions tend to be less frequent than smoking a cigarette, and because hookah is smoked through a water chamber, that the practice is safer.”
She points out there has not been a strong public health campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of hookah smoke, the way there is for cigarettes.
This new review is published online in Respiratory Medicine.
Citation “Hookah, is it really harmless?”