Parents! File this one under “if it’s sounds too good to be true, it probably is”.
The popularity of hookah, a water pipe used to smoke tobacco sweetened with molasses (called sisha) has surged with college and high school students as the safe alternative to smoking cigarettes.
Many children have convinced their parents that hookah is safe because the water pipe collects “harmful particles” (just look at the dirty water). Shisha is sweet and comes in different flavors and many teenagers find smoking sisha more sophisticated and pleasant, “not disgusting like cigarettes”.
And here’s the thing! According to Victor DeNoble, (the scientist who ‘outed’ the tobacco industry’s attempt to hide the fact that nicotine is addictive), hookah is worse than smoking cigarettes.
The particles trapped in the water would have been filtered out of your body anyway. So no benefit there. And more importantly, the really bad gases that cause lung disease are still in the smoke and inhaled more deeply and held longer in the lungs because the water cools the smoke. So hookah poses a greater health risk than cigarettes.
The other thing about hookah is that it is a very social phenomenon. Hookah bars offer places where young adults go to enjoy each other’s company and share a hookah pipe There is a lot of pressure from peers to “join in”.
Tobacco is not harmless. It’s even more dangerous with a water pipe, and it is illegal for minors to use.
- Hookah originated 500 years ago in the Middle East (Egypt, India, Turkey)
- Hookah is a water pipe used to smoke tobacco
- Sisha is the tobacco smoked in the hookah, soaked in molasses and comes in different fruit flavors
- Hookah involves tobacco and is illegal for minors.
- Urban Myth: Hookah cleanses the smoke by collecting particles in the water –making it harmless.
- Truth: Smoking tobacco with a Hookah is more dangerous than cigarettes—the bad chemicals (same or worse as cigarettes) is inhaled more deeply because the smoke is cooled by the water pipe
(First published in Banana Moments Quarterly, Spring 2009 Edition)
Joanna Jullien firstname.lastname@example.org
Joanna married her high school sweetheart and over the past 25 years they have raised two sons in Roseville, CA. She has a degree from UC Berkeley in Social Anthropology (corporate culture) and has over 20 years experience as a professional manager in information technology, manufacturing, energy and environment.
Joanna writes on parenting in the 21st century, as she has observed and personally experienced many strains on the parent-child relationship with the advent of the Internet, mobile phones and popular culture.