Is Hookah More Harmful than Cigarette?

City Health

A Journal by the American Heart Association (AHA) declares that hookah users inhale high amounts of toxic chemicals that are risky for heart and blood vessels


Bangalore, March 19, 2019

Is hookah better because the smoke is filtered through water? In reality and according to the Denver Public health Organization, “smoke cannot be washed off” hookah sessions can last longer than smoking a cigarette, and can expose to high levels of smoke and toxic chemicals.

Hookah users inhale high amounts of toxic chemicals that are risky for heart and blood vessels.  It’s a finding published in a new AHA Journal, stating that a single 30 minutes smoking session of tobacco in a hookah exposes the person to more carbon monoxide than a single cigarette.

Even short term exposure to carbon monoxide in the water pipes is toxic.  Hookah, which is a water pipe containing different types of tobacco is known by different names like narghile, argileh, shisha, and goza. It has a body, water hose that ends with a mouthpiece. On top of the tobacco filled bowl that is placed just below the burning charcoal. Hookah tobacco is a combination of dried fruit, flavored tobacco with different types of bases like milk that are used to enhance the smoke, and keep the tobacco wet and burning.

Shantanu K, a regular hookah smoker, says “I have been smoking hookah since four years continuously and I do feel some kind of a pain in my chest, and I have problems breathing at some point – but also I used to smoke cigarettes so I am not sure which has affected me more.”

According to the journal, it was found that Hookah smoke contains potentially harmful chemicals that can affect the heart and the blood vessels, the chemicals include nicotine, air pollutants, particulate matter, volatile organic chemicals, polycyclic hydrocarbons, acrolein, lead, cadmium, and arsenic.

It is considered that the levels of all these chemicals are higher in hookah as compared to the cigarette smoke.  In 2016, it was estimated that more than 100 million people worldwide smoke tobacco through hookah pipes daily. It was reported by the Indian Journal of cancer that hookah prevalence was from five to 14 percent in India.  It was also found that hookah smoking is harmful as smokers inhale a volume of smoke equivalent to 100 cigarettes during a typical 45-60 minutes hookah sessions.

Satish, Manager of the Dr.Sheesha Hookh Bar in Bangalore, says “We can’t deny the fact that hookah has been part of our smoking culture and habits since many decades. It was started in the medieval period by Indians, and there are immense interest and love for hookah in our country. So, we cannot completely close the bars or manufacturing units even though it is bad for the health.”

PhanenderKetha, a pulmonologist in Visakhapatnam, says “It is true that hookah is harmful, in the long term it leads to a lot of lungs problems, oral cancers, and heart problems. It should be recommended that people shouldn’t consume it. The fact is youngsters and old people are the ones who consume more in India which is dangerous.”