(Consumer Reports) - In some areas, using a hookah is the new “social smoking” trend in bars and restaurants. Cigarette smoking has significantly declined in the past decade, but the popularity of hookahs is increasing.
A hookah is a water pipe that uses charcoal to heat shisha, a flavored blend of herbal substances. Some shisha contains tobacco, which has nicotine and can be addictive.
Smoke from hookahs can contain carbon monoxide and other toxic chemicals known to increase the risk of smoking-related cancers, heart disease, and lung disease.
This trend is attracting more teenagers and young adults. According to a study of middle school and high school students in New York City, the rate of those who’ve tried hookahs went up from about 9 percent to 13 percent between 2008 and 2014. It more than doubled among Hispanic students, from 7 percent to almost 18 percent. But New York City is cracking down with new laws that limit hookah smoking to designated bars and for people 21 and older.
One perception is that because the smoke passes through water, the vapor is less harmful. But the number of puffs taken during an hour-long hookah session could be about 10 times more than when smoking just one cigarette.
People should have more information about the consequences of whatever they use. It’s about protecting the consumer.
Secondhand smoke from hookahs can also be a health risk for nonsmokers and kids.
Another study found that the three most common places for teenagers to smoke a hookah is in their own home, a friend’s house, or another family member’s home.