There are tons of misconceptions surrounding smoking, but ideas about hookah may top the list. A common myth surrounding the water pipe used to smoke tobacco is that it’s safer than smoking cigarettes. The thought process behind this myth is that the hookah’s water-filled pipe filters out toxic chemicals that are present when smoking cigarettes. A new study shows that just isn’t true.
If you’re unfamiliar with hookah smoking, the smoke is filtered through water at the bottom of the hookah pipe, where it bubbles up. The user then inhales the smoke through a hose.
In the study, researchers at German Jordanian University in Jordon analyzed four popular tobacco brands. They studied the amount of heavy metals that were present in the tobacco itself as well as the amount present in the hookah smoke.
The water only filtered out about three percent of the heavy metals that are present in tobacco. Fifty-seven percent of the heavy metals were still present in the hookah smoke. The rest was found in the tobacco ash. Some of the heavy metals detected were copper, iron, chromium, lead, and uranium. Who wants to willingly consume all of those harmful toxins?
That three percent of filtered toxins “would not protect the user against exposure to the majority of the potentially toxic metals,” according to the study’s researchers.
Lead researcher, Akeel Al-Kazwini explains further:
Since the trend of smoking water pipe has increased markedly among the young in the last decade, not only in the Middle East but worldwide, our research adds to the evidence about its potential health hazards. It is also important to highlight the fact that water is mainly cooling the smoke, and not filtering it as is commonly believed.
More teens are smoking hookah than ever before and many of them may believe it’s actually safer than cigarettes. The allure may come from this myth as well as the social aspect of hookah smoking, and the flavored tobacco that is traditionally smoked using a hookah. But don’t be fooled. smoking hookah is far from safer than cigarettes. It may lead to lung cancer, oral cancer, and respiratory issues.
Help to debunk the myth that smoking hookah is safer than cigarettes by sharing these facts with your teens. The more informed they are about tobacco use, the better prepared they’ll be to make healthy choices.
Subscribe to Choices, a health and well-being magazine for teens, and check out past articles about the dangers of smoking, including the side effects of secondhand smoke and how tobacco companies are targeting teens.