Friday, May 16, 2008

Stop Smoking: Hookahs More Dangerous than Cigarettes

Many young people have taken up the habit of smoking tobacco through a hookah. Hookah lounges are seen as a way to socialize with friends and a fun way to relax. Often the smokers think that this form of tobacco is safer than smoking cigarettes because the water filters out the toxins in the tobacco smoke or because the tobacco is touted as organic or not containing additives or containing less tar and nicotine than cigarettes or because the smoke doesn’t smell bad and it doesn’t leave a bad taste in the mouth. However, smoking from a hookah may be even more dangerous than smoking cigarettes.

A hookah is a glass based water pipe where a large quantity of pure, shredded, flavored tobacco is used. The tobacco used can contain 2 to 4 percent nicotine as opposed to 1 to 3 percent in cigarettes. The hookah is lit with a piece of quick lighting commercial charcoal. A typical smoking session lasts about an hour. The smoke is filtered through water or other favored liquid and does filter out some of the large particles contained in smoke. However, the smoke from a hookah contains the same amount of tar and almost three times the amount of nicotine. When lit by charcoal, this increases the amount of carbon monoxide in the smoke, which is a colorless, odorless gas that can affect the heart and cause brain damage. The water cools the smoke down and the tobacco burns at a lower temperature. The smoker must suck harder to force the smoke through the water which causes the smoker to inhale deeper into their lungs and longer, causing additional exposure to the deadly components of smoke. In a typical session of one half hour to an hour, a smoker may be exposed to the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes and larger amounts of nicotine, carbon monoxide and other toxins.

Studies have shown that smoking through a hookah can cause cellular chromosomal damage in the mouth and periodontal disease at rates similar or higher to smoking cigarettes.

Regardless of the source, cigarettes, pipes, cigars, or hookahs, no one who smokes is healthy. Is it time to quit? What are the issues that you are facing?

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