Hookah Smoking Facts



Is Hookah Smoking Healthy? The hookah industry says so. Are they right? Read on....



Hookah Bars and Hookah/Shisha Smoking Facts


Wikipedia defines hookah this way: hookah, also known as the qalyān or Shisha is a single- or multi-stemmed instrument for either heating or vaporizing and smoking, tobacco, flavored tobacco, or sometimes cannabis, hashish, and in the past opium, whose vapor is passed through a water basin—often glass-based—before inhalation. Wikipedia. Hookah is the pipe, shisha is the tobacco, marijuana or other substance.

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Other Facts 

  • Young adults have taken to this form of smoking, in part because it's considered to be a unique and acceptable way to socialize with friends, but also because there is a misconception that hookah is a safe way to smoke tobacco. It isn't, and some of the facts about hookah smoking might surprise you.


  • Researchers from Johns Hopkins studied the air in several hookah bars over a 9 month period. In particular, they measured nicotine and carbon monoxide levels, along with particulate matter in hookah smoke smaller than 2.5 microns.


  • Their findings showed that the air in enclosed spaces where hookah is smoked is laden with carbon monoxide and breathable particulate matter from the tobacco smoke in concentrations that are higher than in public spaces where cigarette smoking is allowed.1 Nicotine content was not as high, but it was measurable. 


  • In another study, researchers focused on 55 healthy people with some level of hookah smoking experience in the past.2 Participants were asked to abstain from all tobacco use for a week. They then spent an evening smoking at a hookah bar. Urine samples were collected and tested.


  • Researchers found that nicotine levels after were as much as 70 times higher than they were before the hookah bar exposure. Additionally, NNAL, which is a nasty carcinogen that is specific to tobacco smoke, was present in participants in twice the amount as before, and VOCs, also hazardous to breathe in, were detected in elevated amounts between 14% and 91%.


  • While this study looked at hookah smoking specifically, it adds to the picture of the chemicals that are floating around in the ambient air of a hookah bar. Inhaling the air in the enclosed space of a hookah bar is not healthy for anyone.


Avoid Hookah Smoking and Hookah Bars

  • It is a mistake to think that hookah is a safe way to smoke tobacco, and that just because hookah lounges exist, that they too are safe.
  • Tobacco is inherently dangerous for your health, whether you are smoking it or using a smokeless variety.
  •  Additionally, all tobacco products contain nicotine, so it is also addictive.
  • The best way to steer clear of the risks is to avoid using it in any form.
  • If you are thinking about quitting, you can read about how to get started on this link: Resources to Quit Smoking or Vaping!


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