Is hookah safer than cigarettes?


Many hookah users will tell you YES!!! Studies, however. are starting to point to the fact that unfortunately it is NOT. What is becoming evident is that hookah does have some negative health effects, in some cases even more than those of regular cigarettes.


For those unfamiliar with the world of hookah – a quick history lesson: hookah is one of the oldest forms of smoking and began centuries ago in ancient Persia and India. Called many names over their history (including narghile, argileh, shisha, hubble-bubble, and goza); over the last decade hookah cafés have gained popularity around the world, including Britain, France, Russia, the Middle East, and the United States.


In terms of how they work – hookahs are water pipes that are used to smoke specially made tobacco that comes in different flavors, such as apple, mint, cherry, chocolate, coconut, licorice, cappuccino, and watermelon. A typical modern hookah has a head (with holes in the bottom), a metal body, a water bowl, and a flexible hose with a mouthpiece. This form of smoking is usually done in groups, with the mouthpiece passed from person to person.

The main danger of smoking hookah comes from the smoke. This smoke is known to contain high levels of carbon monoxide, metals, and other cancer-causing chemicals – found to cause lung, bladder, and oral cancers.. These toxic substances are produced when the charcoal in hookah pipes is heated.


Apart from cancer, hookah smoke can lead to clogging of your arteries and heart disease. In fact a recent study showed that a single session of hookah smoking delivers 10 times the amount of carbon monoxide present in a regular cigarette and hookah smoke may also stiffen the arteries to a degree comparable with regular cigarettes. Stiff arteries can later lead to increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.


People who use a hookah may be exposed to the toxins in the smoke longer than if they smoked cigarettes. According to the CDC, a person puffs on a cigarette an average of 20 times, but they may take 200 puffs during an hour-long hookah session. Because users usually spend more time smoking a hookah in one session they may absorb more of the toxic substances. Also, smoking a hookah delivers more than 2.5 times the amount the nicotine as cigarette smoke. This volume of nicotine has the potential to be addictive. Another crazy number is that the amount of smoke inhaled during a typical hookah session is about 90,000 milliliters (mL), compared with 500–600 mL inhaled when smoking a cigarette.


So to summarize:


  1. Hookah smoke contains many harmful compounds and toxins, many of which cause the same cancers associated with cigarettes


  1. Hookah smoke contains nicotine, a highly addictive compound which makes hookah smoking addictive.


  1. The water in hookah smoke does not filter out harmful chemicals.


Despite hearing about all the risks associated with hookah smoke, hookah enthusiasts that we spoke to have told us that for them – they feel it is probably safer in the long run because they’re not smoking hookah very often, as opposed to cigarettes smokers who sometimes smoke a pack or more a day. Whether that’s true or not is up for debate, but what’s not up for debate is the fact that we now know that both can have negative effects on your health and well-being.