Hookah smoking comes with health risks

Kitchener Yara Yanes knows it is bad for her health, but that doesn’t stop her from sharing a hookah pipe with friends.

“It is fun. It is a social thing,” said the 20-year-old university student who works as a waitress at Arabesque Cafe in Kitchener, one of seven known hookah parlours in Waterloo Region.

Man exhaling hookah smoke

Man exhaling hookah smoke

“I know it is more harmful than cigarettes, but my parents would want me to smoke it (hookah) and not cigarettes” as it is part of her Middle Eastern culture, said the Syrian native.

This risky new behaviour, particularly among teens and young adults, is gaining in popularity both locally and across the province.

Smoking a hookah — also known as a water pipe, shisha, narghile or hubble-bubble — comes with multiple health risks, experts say.

But only health units in Ottawa and Hamilton are doing anything to tackle hookah smoking, which experts say poses health hazards such as transfer of communicable diseases and exposure to second-hand smoke.

Hookahs, traditional in Indian and Middle Eastern cultures, come in various sizes and with a varying number of hoses, but they work the same: a piece of burning charcoal is placed over top of a small bowl containing flavoured herbs or a tobacco mixture.

Smokers suck the smoke down to the bottom of the hookah’s glass bowl where it bubbles through a layer of water.

In Waterloo Region, there are seven hookah bars, all in restaurants which allow teens under 19 to participate.

But recent studies found that daily water-pipe use is similar to smoking 10 cigarettes a day. A typical hookah session lasts up to 80 minutes and consists of 200 puffs, compared with up to seven minutes and up to 12 puffs to smoke a cigarette.

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One Response to Hookah smoking comes with health risks

  1. Joe Martin says:

    Did you look at other types of tobacco products? And wouldn’t you argue that because the tobacco in hookah is a little more pure (although still harmful) that it would create a little less health risks? I found that in most cases with smoking the problem comes with the inhalation of the smoke, is that the same with you?

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