You might call it Shisha in Egypt or hookah in India, the infamous old tradition has been associated with leisurely activities for centuries. Hookah has become a huge rage nowadays with youngsters flocking to shisha joints like hibernating birds without understanding the repercussions of this habit. There’s a common belief that smoking from a hookah is less harmful than smoking tobacco in other ways because the hookah’s water-filled pipe filters out toxic chemicals. But that’s just one of the myths about these pipes.
Snehal Singh, Senior Lifestyle and Wellness Management Consultant at Healthians, an online diagnostic centre that offers at home service, and Sargam Dhawan, Director, Planet Herbs Lifesciences Pvt Ltd list the major myths around the hookah.
Myth 1: Hookah and vaping is same
Hookah is used to smoke tobacco in an intricate setup, where the heated tobacco smokes passes through cool water to reach the smoker via a water pipe structure. It is usually shared in groups and is a trend in social gatherings, more common among youngsters these days. Whereas, vaping is smoking e-cigarettes that are for individual use that burns substances and nicotine, at high temperatures to produce vapours.
Myth 2 – Hookah is a great option and has no harmful effects
Hookah smokers can be at risk of the same health problems as cigarette smokers. The toxic substances, chemicals and poisonous gases, increase the risk of several health problems. These include cough, respiratory problems, reduced lung function and decreased fertility. It is also noted that babies born to women who smoked hookah every day can weigh less than those of non-smokers and such babies can also be at a greater risk of respiratory problems.
Myth 3 – Hookah smoke is cleaned and cooled after passing over water and is not as dangerous as cigarette smoking
Although hookah smoke is cooled when smoking, the toxic chemicals in it are still dangerous. The charcoal used for heating the substances and tobacco, pose great health risks. It produces toxic substances and gases like carbon monoxide, metals and other carcinogenic chemicals which can increase the risk of cancers and heart problems just as much as cigarette smoking.
Myth 4- Herbal or fruit flavour hookah is healthier than regular hookah
It is believed that flavoured hookah offers many benefits as natural and herbal substances are used. However, when these are burnt, the final result is carbon monoxide and toxic gases, which are harmful for the lungs and overall health.
Myth 5 – Smoking hookah does not affect others
Hookah smoking also releases second-hand smoke, which greatly affects others, just like cigarette smoking. It releases very fine particles in air, which are harmful to those sitting around. Even in case of non-tobacco hookah, the toxic content in the released smoke is the same as tobacco products.
Myth 6 – Hookah is not addictive as a cigarette
Hookah smoking can lead to inhalation of tobacco, which contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive substance and smoking hookah too can be as addictive as smoking cigarettes. Depending on the substances used and the level of tolerance of nicotine, some people may feel addicted or even get high on hookah.
Myth 7 – Hookah smoke is water cooled and filtered
People, especially kids, think that because hookah smoke is water-cooled and filtered, it is safe, but that’s not true. In comparable studies with cigarettes, hookah smoke contains significant quantities of the same chemicals that make cigarette smoke harmful. In addition, hookah smoke contains the same cancer-causing particulates found in second-hand smoke and 100 times the amount of lead as in regular cigarettes.
Myth 8 – Hookah used with milk
One of the biggest myths is that by adding milk to your base instead of water, you will get bigger smoke clouds. This is something that no one should ever experiment with. Milk froths up a lot when air runs through it. Unless you are sterilizing your hookah rig between each session, this milk could cause bacterial growth and if inhaled, could cause nasty respiratory or lung infections.
(With inputs from IANS)