Hookah and Shisha; Are They For You?

Even Herbal Shishka Can be as Bad as Cigarettes For Your Health

Smoking anything, even a hookah pipe is dangerous for your health.
Smoking anything, even a hookah pipe is dangerous for your health. | Source

Is a Hookah Lounge For You?

In the last few years hookah pipe smoking has become a popular American pass-time. It isn’t for everyone, but is it harmful? Is it something you want to try?

American teens and twenty-somethings in the US are going to smoking parlors and hookah bars in every major city. It’s become a place to meet and get to know more people; a social setting for those who like sitting in a circle, sharing a smoke and engaging in conversation legally. People who would never normally talk to each other can meet at the hookah lounge and get to know each other. A smoking session often lasts up to 60 minutes.

All forms of tobacco use has been banned in some cities’ public places. Hookah shops often get to remain open for the mere purchase of a permit. Users often tout that it’s safer than cigarette smoke, thinking that the smoke gets ‘cleaned’ when it goes through the water, but this is a false sense of safety. The water simply cools the smoke, and doesn’t remove any of the toxins that tobacco smoke contains. The effects of tobacco are the same.

Popular Hubbly Bubbly

A hookah pipe is called by many names. Some of them are:

  • Hubble bubble or hubbly bubbly,
  • Narghile
  • Shisha/sheesha
  • Goza
  • Ghalyan
  • Ghelyoon
  • Kalyan
  • Okka
  • And others.

A hookah pipe is a water pipe in which the user draws smoke from the bowl through a flexible tube. The shisha smoke goes from the bowl into the water, where it is cooled before going up the flexible tube and into the users’ mouth and he inhales.

Everyone who smokes a hookah tells the same thing about the end result. There are no health effects of hookah; but, it offers the smoker a light-headed feeling, or a slight buzz that only lasts a few minutes. But if the smoker keeps smoking, after an hour, a calm, relaxing feeling washes through the smoker and it lasts a long time.

Many hookah smokers are either misinformed or ignorant, saying that smoking a hookah is not as harmful as cigarette smoking. Not true, as there are no study results on the long term health affects of hookah smokers, but there have been a myriad of studies on smoking tobacco. Smoking tobacco through a hookah or water pipe does not make it safer at all, as the water removes no tars, toxins or carcinogens. It simply cools the smoke and the smoker is harming himself just as much as people smoking cigarettes are.

More Tobacco Facts

Hookah tobacco, or shisha, is not the same as cigarette tobacco. Cigarettes are full of chemicals to prevent fires, make the papers burn evenly and even chemicals to make your body get addicted and make you want more tobacco. A hookah delivers a much stronger, denser smoke, being up to 100 times more smoke per puff.

There are now herbal versions of shisha that contain no tobacco at all. Being simply herbs, spices and fruit pulp mixed with molasses or honey, it’s all natural. But, smoking is smoking and it isn’t good for the lungs.

People smoke on a hookah for up to sixty minutes; six times longer than it takes to smoke a whole cigarette, and that dense hit makes sure you’re ingesting a lot of smoke.

The Harmful Effects of Tobacco

Research about smoking a hookah pipe is being done all the time and they haven’t found anything positive or beneficial. As mentioned before, the activity is still smoking tobacco; an addictive substance that causes cancer in people who smoke.

The Mayo Clinic says that shisha hookah tobacco smoke contains high levels of deadly compounds and chemicals. Tar, carbon monoxide (car exhaust), heavy metals and list of cancer causing agents and carcinogens are just a few of them. And, hookah smokers are ingesting much more carbon monoxide than cigarette smokers are.

Heart disease and lung and oral cancers are just some of the adverse effects that smoking causes on the body. Hookah pipes deliver about the same amount of nicotine as a cigarette does, making them every bit as addicting. Since the water pipe produces a greater amount of smoke than a cigarette does, the dangers of second hand smoke become multiplied.

And, pregnant women who smoke hookah’s put their baby at serious risk for low birth weight and serious and deadly complications before and after birth. There is also a risk using public-use hookahs because they may not be cleaned properly between uses or between users, increasing the risk of passing communicable diseases.

A Hookah Lounge - Second-hand Shisha Smoke for Employees

Hookah effects are two. One being that the smokers get a slight buzz and the other being the social aspect. People sit in a circle and smoke while sharing pleasant conversation around a 3 hose hookah. They claim it makes friends and brings friendships to others closer.

The WHO (World Health Organization) completed studies on hookah smoking and released the findings in a May 2010 announcement. They found that a lot of people have misconceptions about smoking a hookah pipe. Guillermo Cole, public information officer for the Allegheny County Health Dept. said, “Anyone who thinks it’s safer isn’t basing it on any valid science.”

The health professionals at WHO admit there is no concrete answer of a hookah’s benefits because there haven’t been sufficient studies to give us answers. But, more studies are being done all the time, so people can make more informed decisions on ruining their bodies.


MayoClinic.com, “Quit Smoking” by Dr. Richard D. Hurt, MD, no publish date, accessed on 11/15/2010 at 7:30pm.

rdoc.org,“Smoking Hookah Risks”, no author or publishing date listed, accessed on 11/15/2010 at 8pm.

PittsburghCityPaper.com, “On the Pipe; Smoking Not as Safe as Originally Thought”, by Chris Young, 1 page, accessed on 11/15/2010 at 7pm.

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