These days the news seems to be all about e-cigarettes and vaping, leaving other forms of tobacco rarely discussed. While cigarette smoking is at an all time low among both teens and adults, it seems that hookah is gaining in popularity again among our young adults, ages 18-24.
According to an article, about 1% of U.S. adults smoked hookah in 2017, or about 2.6 million. While that number may not seem huge compared to vaping, it is nearly double the number from several years ago.
What makes the hookah popular is the unique method for smoking. It is not a hurried smoke standing outside, but rather a social activity, usually in a hookah bar or lounge dedicated to this activity, as partakers sit around a waterpipe filled with sweetened tobacco heated by charcoal placed in the head. The only flavoring allowed in cigarettes is tobacco and menthol (although menthol flavoring may disappear), while hookah tobacco comes in candy and fruit flavors making it more appealing to youth. The water in the base of the pipe smooths the smoke, making it easier and more pleasant to smoke than cigarettes. Teens and young adults are also under the impression that it is less habit-forming.
Researchers point out that smoking hookah is not as harmless as people think. It still contains carcinogens and toxins, some at higher levels than cigarette smoking. A typical cigarette is smoked for five to 10 minutes while a hookah session can last for 30 minutes to an hour, giving users “nine to 10 times” as much carbon monoxide as cigarettes.
What concerns researchers is that hookah smoking may damage cardiovascular health in much the same way as cigarette smoking. Although many consider hookah as a social activity, the hand-to-mouth habit and the nicotine could also lead some youth to start smoking or using other tobacco or vaping products.
If you want to learn more about the dangers of hookah and other methods of nicotine use, the Florida Tobacco Prevention Training for Educators can provide you with information on cigarettes and other alternative products such as hookah, smokeless tobacco, and vaping. Our courses allow participants to earn 30- or 60-credits to renew their current Florida Department of Education certificate at no cost to them or their district. At the end of the course, participants teach six (6) tobacco prevention lessons to their students. Lesson plans are provided for K-12 grades and administrators, school counselors and teachers in public, private and charter schools are allowed to take one of our courses. This year we added a 20-CEU course for Florida School Nurses (no teaching required) and 10-point ENDS course for Palm Beach educators.