- Tobacco

What’s the Hoopla About Hookah?

I was recently contacted by a woman whose 16-year-old daughter and her friends have made their new “hang out spot” a hookah bar. Naturally, the mother was concerned. She wrote:

“I don’t know much about hookah bars, but a quick Google search informed me that they’re smoking something called Shisha which may even be more dangerous than cigarettes. I asked my daughter about it and she and her friends are all under the impression that it’s practically harmless because the smoke is filtered through water. Could you shed a little light on this for us?”

Hookah bars seem to be popping up everywhere and are something many parents are wondering about these days. In fact, I was one of those parents when a business client took our own daughter to a Hookah bar a few ago. She was already an adult and therefore able to make her own decisions about smoking, but I was still a concerned parent wondering what all the hoopla about Hookah was about.

For those who may not know about Hookah, here’s a “little light” on the subject:

– First and foremost, Hookah is not any safer to inhale than cigarettes.

– A hookah is a water pipe with a smoke chamber, a bowl, a pipe and a hose. Specially made tobacco is heated, and the smoke passes through water and is then drawn through a rubber hose to a mouthpiece.

– The tobacco is no less toxic in a hookah pipe, and the water in the hookah does not filter out the toxic ingredients in the tobacco smoke.

– Hookah smokers may actually inhale more tobacco smoke than cigarette smokers do because of the large volume of smoke they inhale in one smoking session, which can last as long as 60 minutes.

– As with cigarette smoking, hookah smoking is linked to lung and oral cancers, heart disease, and other serious illnesses.

– Hookah smoking delivers about the same amount of nicotine as cigarette smoking, possibly leading to tobacco dependence.

– Hookah pipes used in hookah bars and cafes may not be cleaned properly, risking the spread of infectious diseases.

My suggestion to the mother was that she sit down with her daughter and explain these facts and then, if her daughter still thinks Hookah smoking is safe, take her on a web search together. Just type in, “Is hookah smoking dangerous?” or something similar and you will find a lot of good information that will shed a lot of light on the subject. You might start at the Mayo Clinic site where the information above came from:


The bottom line is that I recommend that you treat Hookah smoking just as you would any use of tobacco: 1. Talk about it openly with respect and caring; 2. Explain why it is not okay for teens to use these substances, and try to get agreement on this; 3. Set up logical consequences if necessary to enforce a “no use” rule.

I hope that any daughter (and son for that matter) comes to the same conclusion as ours did and chooses to stay away from tobacco in any form, including hookah bars.