Within the last couple of years a new trend among high school and college students has been emerging: hookah. Often found in trendy “hookah lounges” with live music, hookahs are water pipes used to smoke flavored tobacco.
I have to admit, I was curious to see what all the hype is about. So mid-way through my senior year, a group of friends and I went to the local hookah lounge to see for ourselves. I told my mom where we were going she replied with a simple, “Have fun. Let me know how it is.”
I was shocked by her reaction. After all, it was only a few months prior that she raised heck after finding a pack of cigarettes in my purse. Why was she so against me smoking a cigarette, yet found it completely acceptable to inhale tobacco as long as it was flavored and with a group of friends?
The truth is, the idea of smoking hookah seems to be tied in with a lot of misconceptions. Perhaps my mother was as blind to these misconceptions as everyone else.
While hookah has been around for centuries, emerging from Persia and India, it only just became a hit in the U.S., fueled by the idea that hookah smoking is safer than cigarettes. In reality, inhaling tobacco from hookah has many of the same health risks as inhaling tobacco from a cigarette. In some cases, it can have even greater risks. In a one-hour hookah session, for example, you can inhale 200 times more smoke than you would from a single cigarette!
Of course, this smoke increases your rates of getting lung and oral cancers, heart disease and other serious illnesses.
In addition, hookah can also lead to the spread of infectious diseases. If hookah pipes aren’t cleaned as efficiently as they should be, germs, such as herpes, can be passed from one mouth to another. Kinda unreal!
Of course, if teens aren’t aware of these health risks, we aren’t going to see anything wrong hookah. And honestly there’s something exciting about spending a few hours with your friends smoking salted caramel tobacco in those trendy little lounges. Regardless, smoking hookah just isn’t safe.