EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - The hookah bar holds a certain allure.  They have become cool and commonplace in areas where young people congregate.   In fact, hookah use among young people in the United States has been increasing with the highest rates among university students, ranging from 22% to 40%.  Many people believe that hookah use is safe and positive attitudes seem to be prolific.  However, the facts are very clear and hookah use holds many of the same dangers as cigarette smoking. 

These are the facts:

  • The nicotine in hookahs is just as addictive as the nicotine in cigarettes and the water in the hookah pipe does not reduce the level of nicotine in the smoke.
  • The charcoal used to heat the tobacco can raise health risks by producing high levels of carbon monoxide, metals, and cancer-causing chemicals.1,4
  • Even after it has passed through water, the smoke from a hookah has high levels of these toxic agents.4
  • Hookah tobacco and smoke contain several toxic agents known to cause lung, bladder, and oral cancers.1,4
  • Tobacco juices from hookahs irritate the mouth and increase the risk of developing oral cancers.4,7 
  • Hookah may deliver more toxic substances to a user.  An hour long hookah session involves approximately 200 puffs while an average cigarette involves on average 20 puffs.
  • Secondhand smoke from hookahs can be a health risk for nonsmokers. It contains smoke from the tobacco as well as smoke from the heat source (e.g., charcoal) used in the hookah.1,5,9
  • Many people think the “herbal” hookah or non tobacco based products are safe but, studies show that smoke from these preparations contain carbon monoxide and other toxic agents known to increase the risks for smoking-related cancers, heart disease, and lung disease.10,11

Clearly hookah use holds the same or more risk than cigarette smoking.  People are at risk for the same types of conditions that have led the public to shun cigarette smoking and have led to numerous laws aimed at reducing cigarette use and banning public cigarette use.  But hookah bars are popping up everywhere and hookah marketing is aimed at our young and impressionable populations.   We know the risks, reduced lung function, decreased fertility, heart disease, and a long list of cancers.  Second hand smoke from hookah adds to the risk. 

To use a cliché, where there is smoke, there is fire and you will get burned.