Is Hookah Smoking Safer Than Smoking Cigarettes?
Hookah smoking is not safer than cigarette smoking.
The tobacco is no less toxic in a hookah pipe than in a cigarette, and the water in the hookah does not filter out the toxic ingredients in the tobacco smoke. Hookah smokers may actually inhale more tobacco smoke than cigarette smokers do because of the large volume of smoke they inhale in one smoking session, which can last as long as 60 minutes.
The average, manufactured cigarette contains between 7 and 22 milligrams (mg) of nicotine, with about 1mg absorbed by the person who is smoking. An average hookah bowl contains as much nicotine as a pack of 20 cigarettes.
Those who smoke hookah may take in more of the additional toxins also found in cigarettes — such as tar and heavy metals — because inhalation through the water pipe requires a stronger and longer drag or inhale.
Health Risks of Hookah Smoking
While research about hookah smoking is still emerging, evidence shows that it poses many dangers:
- Hookah smoke contains high levels of toxic compounds, including tar, carbon monoxide, heavy metals and cancer-causing chemicals (carcinogens). In fact, hookah smokers are exposed to more carbon monoxide and smoke than are cigarette smokers.
- As with cigarette smoking, hookah smoking is linked to lung and oral cancers, heart disease, and other serious illnesses.
- Hookah smoking delivers about the same amount of nicotine as cigarette smoking, possibly leading to tobacco dependence.
- Hookah smoke poses dangers associated with secondhand smoke.
- Hookah smoking by pregnant women can result in low birth weight babies.
- Hookah pipes used in hookah bars and cafes may not be cleaned properly, risking the spread of infectious diseases.