Hookah: Own the Habit

 
Every single day, whether it be a TV commercial or newspaper ad, we are reminded that smoking is bad, which is great. “It causes cancer, your teeth fall out, etc. etc. etc.” We are told day after day that cigarette smoking is bad for you.
 
But normally, just cigarettes are mentioned.
 
There are a couple other ways that smoke voluntarily enters our bodies, namely via hookah pipes and pot smoking. But, these smoking habits don’t seem to be held to the same harm-level that puffing on a cig does. I mean, at least not amongst the general population, specifically young adults.
 

Hookah

It’s a traditional water pipe originating from the Middle East and comes in various sizes. There is a bowl atop the pipe that contains flavored tobacco, also known as “shisha,” and the stem pulls the smoke from the heated tobacco bowl down into the water base, and finally out the smoking hose. Even e-Hookahs have become the new trend of the young age, so it has basically become accessible anywhere at any time. Hookah smoking is extremely popular and can be found in some restaurants, and even have specific lounges that only serve hookah smoke (and maybe some form of fountain drink). If you’re 18+, you’ve probably been in a hookah lounge already, and you’ve also probably heard the classic hookah rumors that buzz around. You may hear things like “it’s cleaner than cigarettes” or “the tobacco content isn’t as high” or the best one “it’s the healthier than smoking cigarettes.”
 

Well, Not Necessarily

The World Health Organization claims that 45-minute hookah smoking is the same as smoking 100-cigarettes, and the CDC notes that the volume of smoke inhaled from one puff of hookah is almost 200 times more than that of one cigarette puff (90,000ml compared to 500ml). And if you think about it, heating a coal and then putting it on top of a punctured piece of foil can transfer tons of harmful byproducts right into your mouth and into your lungs.
 
Despite these findings, those who continue to smoke hookah have no idea of the research done on hookah and it’s possible health risks, or bypass it altogether. Probably because there are so many social factors working against dissemination of research results detrimental to the hookah-smoking population.
 
When you look at a hookah bowl, it obviously has way less tobacco in it than one cigarette pack. It has a water filter, so it looks like the smoke may be filtered. And, if you’re in a group, you’re probably passing around the hookah hose, so it doesn’t seem like you’re actually smoking that much. Also, lounges are aimed typically towards 18+ kids, and you can find hookah on the same page as salads on a menu! You’d think that if it were just as unhealthy as cigarettes, hookah bars wouldn’t be allowed. Just like cigarettes aren’t allowed in most restaurants and certain businesses like CVS now refuse to sell them.
 
It makes sense as to why it hasn’t gotten a bad rap yet, but somehow it also has a good reputation in some sort of way. The “hookah high,” describes the supposed relaxing powers it possesses.
 

Smoking

Lets get real for a second, smoking ANYTHING that is not air, is not healthy. Whether or not it’s a cigarette, a cigar, a hookah, or a joint, you are inhaling chemicals (and toxins) through your teeth and into your body and exposing your internal organs to something that shouldn’t be there. Chemicals come from igniting the piece with a hand-held lighter, and also from the coal laying on the foil of a hookah bowl. It’s not good for you, period. Just like it isn’t good for you to drink too much or eat shitty food 24/7.
 
We all have our habits: good, bad, controversial, or whatever. Some of us binge on sweets, some of us drink too much on the weekends, and some of us like to go to hookah lounges and hang out. Do what you want to do, but we need to stop pretending that hookah is “safe” when it actually isn’t. It may not be deadly, and it may not have the same volume of data to back up it’s risks like cigarette smoking does, but it still isn’t good for you. So, if you want to smoke some hookah, fine. Enjoy it, but don’t believe the hype that it doesn’t come with risks. Smoking is unhealthy, no matter what you’re lighting up.

 

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Rachel Jimenez

An Exercise Science major at USF with a love for dance, food, and sarcastic banter. Oh, and she was gluten free before it was cool. instagram: @sassycalves twitter: @itsraayy

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