Smoking hookah more dangerous than cigarettes? - KMSP-TV

Smoking hookah more dangerous than cigarettes?

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

It may be a trendy way to spend a night out with friends, but health experts say hookah smokers may be taking a bigger risk than people who smoke cigarettes.

It’s something that many smokers don’t think about when they go out to any one of the dozens of hookah bars around Chicago.

“Hookah has a flavor, fruit, so that's why I like it, gives me a little, it's like fun sometimes, four times a week I come here,” said Mouhcine Chinnani who was relaxing at the Arabia Café, where he said he often spends up to half an hour smoking hookah.

Chianni said that he started smoking hookah about six years ago and doesn’t consider it a dangerous hobby.

“I didn't see any studies that hookah is bad for your health or a danger,” he said.

However, health experts say it is harmful.

“There's a common misconception that smoking hookah is safer than smoking cigarettes, when in fact, since 2009, there's actually been studies done showing that they're probably more dangerous,” said Carol Southard, an RN and tobacco treatment specialist with Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Southard said that's because the water pipes used to smoke hookah cool the smoke allowing smokers to inhale more deeply than those who smoke cigarettes. In addition, the American Cancer Society says a typical hookah session will involve 200 puffs, compared to about 20 for the average cigarette.

Edita Rink just recently was told she shouldn’t inhale, but she continues to smoke hookah because she enjoys the social aspect of it.

“It's just flavor, basically, hang out with the friends, enjoy the time, it's nothing more. It's not like addictive like cigarettes, it's not like you're craving and want it all the time,” Rink said.

But health experts say just like cigarettes, hookah does contain nicotine, which is the addictive quality of tobacco.

“That actually is a concern about hookah's that it could very well be a gateway to smoking regular cigarettes,” said Southard.

And then, besides the carcinogens in the tobacco itself, there's the additional harmful chemicals being inhaled due to the charcoal used to burn the hookah. The American Cancer Society calls it the “devil in disguise.”

Southard said that smokers need to remember one thing whenever they light up.

“There's no such thing as a safe amount of any tobacco product.”

But despite the risks, many hookah smokers laugh off the dangers.

“You can die from anything, right,” asked Rink, while laughing.

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