Think twice before using the Hookah pipe

By Kirstie Kear

In recent years, smoking hookah has emerged as a rapidly growing trend among young adults around the world. What began as a Middle Eastern and Indian cultural tradition has spread throughout the U.S. and is now catching on in Lexington.

A hookah is a water pipe with a smoke chamber, bowl, pipe and hose. Specially made tobacco is heated, the smoke is passed through the water and then drawn through a rubber hose to a mouthpiece. While hookah may be enjoyed as a relaxing way to go out with friends, general lack of knowledge has led to the misconception that it is safe.

With a new hookah bar opening up in Lexington, which will be sure to attract college students, it is time to expose the ugly truth about its health risks.

Many people who have never smoked cigarettes wouldn’t think twice about trying hookah. Although portrayed as being safe and clean, research has found that smoking hookah is as harmful, if not more harmful, as smoking cigarettes. Unlike cigarettes, hookah is not usually a daily habit; however, during a typical 60 minute session, hookah smokers inhale the equivalent of 100 cigarettes or more, according to a Harvard Medical School report in 2008.

Masked by alluring scents and flavors is tobacco smoke containing high levels of toxic chemicals, like carbon monoxide, tar, heavy metals and carcinogens, as well as enough nicotine to possibly lead to dependence. Scientists have linked smoking hookah to heart disease, respiratory problems, and lung, oral, bladder, esophageal and stomach cancers. In addition, hookah bars may not properly sterilize or replace hookah mouthpieces after use, which could lead to infectious diseases.

When it comes to health, students should be able to make informed decisions. As hookah use is becoming increasingly common, it is crucial that the associated risks not be brushed aside.

Plain and simple, the dangers of smoking hookah far outweigh the benefits. Hopefully, knowing the truth about hookah will make students think twice about picking up the pipe.