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Hookah Love Blog

Hookah knowledge, hookah debate, hookah fun
25
May

Smoking hookah or cigarettes/cigars – are they all as unhealthy or bad for you?

We have read many conflicting reports as to the differences in hookah smoking vs. cigarette smoking. We highly encourage you to do your own research and educate yourself about what you are putting into your body. Shisha is still a tobacco product and should be treated as such. If you are interested in doing a joint hookah study or have some valid sources on the subject please comment or email us.

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35 Responses to “Smoking hookah or cigarettes/cigars – are they all as unhealthy or bad for you?”

  1. 1
    ATY Says:

    http://cypresstrees.blogspot.com/2008/01/ny-times-wrong-again.html

    This is an article I published earlier this year. I would be happy to allow you all to republish it here or take the links. Thanks!

    -ATY

  2. 2
    Sahib Says:

    I’m very interested in doing a joint hookah study, i’ve googled it so much for the countless arguements that occur on me smoking hookah. I feel it’s way better then cigs or cigars and in theory your not smoking the tabacco directly but none the less nicotine is being consumed thus we get the buzz or feeling light headed.. So haha if there is a way to do a complete study I definately want to join in!

  3. 3
    Cig Says:

    An interesting part of that kind of study, or maybe just a commentary portion of it, would be one of the cultural components of hookah smoking. In particular, the “competition” between ciar bars and hookah bars in their popularity and the diversity of people that each attracts. I was doing some cigar research and stumbled upon a hookah site that had a wonderfully named product adverstised – Crazy Monkey Hookah Freak Modern Tobacco. I figured that even if the product wasn’t all that great, at least its name is a marketing coolness.

  4. 4
    Anton Says:

    I have been smoking hookah pretty much everyday for the past year 1-3 bowls a day with romman, naklah, and tangies in a funnel bowl out of a 4 hose auto seal. If a study involved me or my friends i can only imagine what my lungs look like or how “healthy” I am.

  5. 5
    Jove Says:

    I have heard a lot of different arguments about smoking hookah, i have done it every day for probably about the last two years due to the fact that it can be a very enjoyable thing to do outside or while watching a movie. I noticed that on every package of sheesha, it says .5% nicotine and 0% tar. This makes me feel much better due to the fact that i hear a lot of people saying how it’s like smoking a bunch of cigarettes for every bowl you smoke. If that were true i would be having some serious lung problems as of now, and in addition, so would the middle east. Cigarettes are full of multiple poisons, such as rat poison, and great quantities of nicotine. People smoke this directly, although with sheesha, you don’t get a lot of ashes in the bowl, you get the burn tobacco that you DIDN’T inhale directly, just the pulverized fruit pulp. Well, that’s my thought on it, although if i were to find that it was extremely dangerous as in, if someone checked my lungs, i would probably have to cut back… a little :)

  6. 6
    geoff Says:

    When you smoke a hookah you’re effectively heating the tobacco and inhaling the vapor, which looks “smoky” because of the glycerin in shisha rather than burning the tobacco and inhaling the smoke along with all of the other awful things in cigarettes/cigars. The “smoke” feels and looks really dense and is hard for some people to handle because it is mostly vapor rather than conventional smoke…similar to the “smoke” that comes out of smoke machines in clubs. Glycerin is the same ingredient in common smoke fluid for those machines and is completely harmless to inhale. Shisha allows you to get a nicotine buzz, (nicotine has a boiling point of 477 degrees F so you’re literally cooking the nicotine out of the tobacco without burning it, without the tar.

  7. 7
    Mario Says:

    ok just t oclear things up because many people are backing up their opinions with the TAR 0%. well IT IS TRUE BUT IT IS NOT(KEEP READING). the tobbacco has 0% TAR until it is burnt so yeah when you are smoking hookah their is a percentage on TAR.

  8. 8
    dark_lord Says:

    You have to consider the fact that you are inhaling it through water. Water will filter out a majority of the tar, however you are also inhaling water. Hookah smoke is not conventional smoke. It dissipates rapidly in air and will not leave a residue like the alternatives do. Just take a piece of white cloth and exhale cigarette, cigar and shisha smoke through it and see the difference.

  9. 9
    epthorn Says:

    I recommend to do exactly what “dark_lord” says. You’ll find that you’re getting plenty of nasty stuff on that piece of cloth when you inhale through it. That’s what’s going in your lungs.

    It’s funny how some of the posters above are using the most anecdotal and unscientific observations to try and rebut an actual study (I use the word study here in it’s strict form… in other words, a study is not a blog post about you and your friends). So far it seems like the legitimate studies show that there is a significant risk incurred when smoking hookah regularly.

    I smoke hookah (usually about once a week) but at least I don’t pretend like the water ‘filters’ the smoke; it does not; it only allows the largest particles to sink. It’s a bad habit, just like almost all pleasing habits. Let’s not delude ourselves, okay?

  10. 10
    Christophanes Says:

    It should be noted that many of the official studies are fraught with errors and intentionally misleading language. Naturally, I’m not claiming a hookah is “risk free”, but investigation into the funding of the studies has revealed undeclared conflicts of interest, and the parameters used in the studies often replicate unrealistic smoking conditions.

    Additionally, the composition of tar is far more important than the quantity. The composition of tar varies considerably with the temperature at which it is created. Tar created at higher temperatures contains more harmful agents in higher concentrations than tar created at lower temperatures. Hookah tobacco simmers at several hundred degrees Celsius cooler than burning cigar or cigarette tobacco.

    Introducing any foreign agent (such as smoke) into one’s body always poses health risks, but in consideration of all variables, I’m hesitant to fully trust the results of many hookah studies.

    Of course, these are my personal opinions, and in no way reflect official (or unofficial) claims or statements from http://www.Hookah-Shisha.com

  11. 11
    sion owen Says:

    O.K. So all know, this site will be used by some in their research of hookah (this is how I found it) The problem I am having with this discussion is that the participants are plamying only two roles. 1. Hopeful disagreer. 2. marter. You need to be subjective and realize that all research has a bias, on both sides. All studies are paid for. The only way to be sure is to learn the conditions, sample group, and controls that took place in the study, otherwise you can only assume (very bad). obvious misconceptions and mistakes. 1. The test done to test carcinogens in shisha by the surgeon general(May 2008) was faulty they cooked it at 600 degrees. shisha is (when done correctly) at 150 degrees. 2. If nothing was filtered in the water it would never change colors. 3. when they say hookah smoke is like smooking 100 or a pack of cigs, they are speaking plainly of volume of smoke. The only toxin that basically translates is that you are getting a TON of carbon monoxide (about 45 percent of what is found in a cig puff per puff). If you think it isnt addictive your an idiot, you like it its addictive, quit or get over it. If you smoke every day you will be screwed soon is my guess. Please don’t. Moderation. I will be conducting a study over the next year and will have it posted to recieve facts. Use discretion. I am looking in to heavy metals and will repost what I find. respond with your thoughts please.

  12. 12
    Kyle Says:

    I’ve been smoking 2-8 times a month since last summer. i thuroughly enjoy the hooka. i cant smoke cigarettes because the smoke is so hot compared to a hooka. but agreeing with Sion Owen, moderation is key. i used to wrestlein high school,(last winter), and i can easily conlude that hooka smoke is somewhat detramental to your health, as ive gone from 5 mile run+excruciating practices to being winded after going up then back down the stairs once. and every person will show simlar but different results with a few exceptions. so enjoy, be careful, and dont hesitate to get checked out. pass the hose!

  13. 13
    mike Says:

    I have bin smoking a hookah for the past 2 years and i smoke it regularly, but i have come to the conclusion it is terrible for my lungs and heart and i have made up my mind to throw the hookah away that i have and smoke it once in a great while when i go to a cafe shop. It is as bad as cigarettes and if not it is worse, i was a lot healthier before i started smoking it. It is not hurting me now but i know as a fact if i keep on smoking it, it i will pay for it in the future and maybe take my life away at a younger age then a normal person lives. So i suggest to all of the people that smoke it that they should stop if they can, i know how tempting it is to smoke a hookah and how good it tastes, but it is not worth your life and the extra years that you can live. Thank you for reading this post and good luck to every one decisions that they make.

  14. 14
    Joanne Says:

    According to the American Cancer Society and other big name organizations (ALA, etc), smoking shiha can be just as dangerous if not more so than smoking a cig. Their explanation for this reasoning is when a person tends to smoke hookah, the smoking “sessions” tend to be longer (ie 30 mins to several hours) as opposed to a 5 min cig break. Also, because the smoke tends to be smoother, smokers tend to inhale more and inhale deeper than they would if they were smoking a cig. While this argument does make sense, I have a hard time believing shisha smoke is more dangerous. Cig smoke has many more additives in it than shisha. Also, there just hasn’t been enough evidence to support their arguements- not enough long term research has been done. Until there is sufficient evidence to prove hookah smoke is linked with disease, I will continue to enjoy it.

  15. 15
    Ryan Says:

    In response to the length of smoking session- I agree that a hookah session can last an hour or so and a cig break is about 5 minutes. However, me and most of the people I know only smoke hookah once a day at most, whereas cig smokers can smoke anywhere from 5-20 a day, meaning their total time spent smoking can range from 25 minutes to an hour and a half each day. I find it odd that they don’t complete the calculations in that equation.

  16. 16
    ryan Says:

    joanne asked for sufficient evidence. and why does there need to be long term studies done? if they find out its bad for you after a week, then think about timesing that by 52. its not a pretty sight. but here are some comparisions with nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide between nicotie and cigs. o and a toxicologist came up with these results. so look at the raw numbers in the chart. its 10 grams of hookah tobacco vs 10 grams of cigarettes tobacco.
    http://www.yourstrategy.org/images-posters/07/StallSeat07-1.pdf

  17. 17
    Gary Says:

    The obvious answer that will become clear in the future is that hookah smoke is not as good for you as air. Finding out more specific information is going to remain difficult for some time longer.

    Especially in today’s economy, scientific research is forced to follow topics that are funded. Currently, the largest funding source for research regarding hookah use comes from national and private organizations centered around human health. When applying to these sources of funding, a lab must produce documentation stating what their goals are. A lab will typically only be funded if their research is in line with ideals of the organization distributing the money – one of the reasons why the report specifically wanted to ascertain the “cancer risks” rather than the relative harm, and why it was not technically wrong to put the shisha under unreal smoking conditions.

    There is a war here. The only science that will withstand the onslaught of counter-arguments must be concrete, but it must also be performed “adequately” in the eyes of the average consumer so that they believe the results as well. One poster above indicated that they would be doing a study. I hope that means that they will be performing a true study that ends up in a peer reviewed journal. Unfortunately, I do not have any funding currently that would allow me to run the HPLC machine on sufficient samples or pick up the necessary particle detectors.

    I think the wisest advice here is – moderation. Do not believe that there are absolutely no side effects to hookah smoke. It will be awhile before anyone can figure out exactly what it is doing in a manner that everyone can agree with.

  18. 18
    Bowser Says:

    Personally, prior to smoking the hookah I smoked a pack of menthol wides per day. I can say that my health is actually better…I don’t have the smokers cough since I quit cigarettes. Also, I find that I don’t inhale hookah smoke as deeply as I did cigarettes. If I were to smoke half of a cigarette now I would have a nicotine buzz, but I only slightly become buzzed after I have finished off a bowl in my hookah. This is all personal experience, but it might be of some benefit to someone else.

  19. 19
    SL Says:

    These are my personal opinions and therefore are not “scientific” but are nonetheless significant.
    First, I used to smoke a pack a day until I finally quit and switched to hookah. I smoke hookah almost every day sometimes twice a day and obviously each smoking session is at least 45-60min. I can say that I don’t cough at all like I used to when smoking cigarettes. I also exercise frequently but I don’t feel out of breath like when I used to smoke cigarettes. Second, I smoke mostly indoors but it never smells like smoke since it dissipates rapidly. With cigarette smoke we all know what happens if you smoke indoors – the whole place smells like an ashtray and you can never get rid of that stench. Third, various studies have shown why cigarette smoke is toxic, like burning the bleached paper, the hundreds of toxic chemicals added to the tobacco, the temperature at which the cigarette burns etc. Shisha lacks most of those components and therefore is arguably “healthier”. That said, inhaling smoke into your lungs is certainly not the way nature intended the lungs to be used and thus not healthy. I definitely believe that hookah smoking while not “healthy” is in fact safer by and large than smoking cigarettes. Moderation is key of course.

  20. 20
    Mangokid Says:

    I checked out the research from “Source: Shihadeh & Saleh (2005) Food & Chemical Toxicology Vol. 43(5).” and found that they compaired a 45 minute session to one single cigerette. Also the phrase,

    “loaded with 10 g of a popular flavored tobacco and kept alight with quick-light charcoal briquettes”

    , used in the study makes me think they actually burned the hookah shisha instead of just being heated like it is normally smoked. I just don’t see any compelling evidence, the biggest thing for me is that i don’t notice any of the problems i see in smokers: the caughing and the trouble breathing.

  21. 21
    Slade Says:

    “Dont take life too seriously… you’ll never make it out alive”

    My whole opinion to this whole discussion, to much of anything can be a bad thing, even the oxygen that our bodies require to function is corrosive… Not enjoying some of the more enjoyable things life has to offer because your afraid your going to die someday is a bit rediculous… you might as well stop breathing so that your lungs won’t get worn out… moderation is key. So go exercise, breathe, eat, sleep, smoke (ocassionaly)and ENJOY!

  22. 22
    Cory Says:

    its a vapor, so therefore there is no tar or resin you get from putting actual flame to the plant matter.

  23. 23
    Jeremiah Says:

    I’ve been smoking for about 8 months now, and I have to look at both sides of this. I’m a forward for my college’s rugby team, and I know that my lung capacity has been restricted because of my hookah smoking. But I also exercise regularly to compensate for this. Not to mention that I no longer smoke cigarettes now (who wants to pay $6 for a pack that’ll last you a few days when the same amount can buy a few weeks worth of shisha?). Its true there is tar in the smoke, but I can’t imagine there being as much as in a cigarette or cigar. I’m not saying its risk free, but I consider shisha to be a better alternative. And I don’t smoke as often anymore, too. The prep work to get a bowl going and cleanup after is pretty time consuming. Between the cost, the hassle, and the fact that the room smells like whatever you’re smoking at the time instead of cigarettes, I gotta say hookah beats out cigs in pretty much all fields.

  24. 24
    Manny Says:

    there is no tar in shisha…i’ve been smoking hookah for about 6 months now, and you can tell from one cigarette whether it be smell or effect of inhaling that the cigarette is much more harsh and dangerous to your body, in fact shisha doesn’t make me feel in any way that my body is being toxified nor does it make me feel like i need to go back every 45 minutes for more, though some sessions i am hitting it for about 2 or 3 hours at the most, that would be equivalent to me of 3 5 minute cigarettes, so basically 5 minutes a cigarette that im going to feel i need everty 15 minutes due to the massive amount of nicotine i mean come on you can’t honestly say the shisha is more harmful if its harmful at all…

  25. 25
    Aidin Says:

    It’s definitely a confusing issue.
    All I can do is speak from is experience. I have been smoking hookah regularly for about 2 years (maybe 3-4 times a week at the most) and I never feel any urges for it.
    It’s a fun thing to do while watching movies or listening to music but I can and have gone months and months without smoking and don’t jones for it at all.
    None of my friends have reported any serious addiction to hookah either.
    If we smoked constantly and alone though, I’m sure we would all get addicted.

    My only advice is to smoke in moderation, as others have said. If you smoke every day or multiple times a day, I’m sure you will start to feel similar effects as those of cigarettes; however, as long as it is done sparingly (and this is true with all things in life) I don’t think it will kill you must faster than anything else.
    I have not reported any loss of stamina or breathing problems as I run track and if I did I would definitely stop smoking it.

  26. 26
    Matt Says:

    I have to agree with many of the voices here that state moderation and a healthy dose of “don’t worry about every little thing” will go a long way in the hookah lounge. The sun causes cancer. 100K+ people a year are killed in automobiles. Polluted drinking water kills millions a year. Nicotine is not good for you. We KNOW that. Use it in moderation and do what I do…don’t inhale. I smoke for the ritual of aspect of hookah, the social appeal, and the flavor of the smoke. I can get all that without inhaling (and my mucus membranes pick up enough nicotine to give a little buzz as well).
    Life is short, enjoy with discretion. :)

  27. 27
    Becca Says:

    From what I understand most research studies state that smoking hookah is as bad or worse than smoking cigarettes, but what I don’t hear about is studies taking into account the frequency of hookah sessions. Personally I smoke once every other week. Cigarette smoker smoke every day, some consuming an entire pack a day.

    What I also don’t see in research studies is the difference between smoking by yourself and smoking in a group. Sure, if you smoke an entire hookah bowl by yourself its like smoking an entire pack of cigarettes, but many avid hookah smokers get together in a social setting with other smokers.

    I feel like there needs to be a better study done taking all factors into account, not just the shisha and the heat!

  28. 28
    Job Says:

    Ryan,

    There is no equation to finish. They are talking about and comparing a single event. 1 hookah session vs. 1 cigarette. Just because one event lasts longer than the other doesn’t make a difference. So if they said a person smokes 6 cigarettes a day you would have to compare 6 hookah sessions as well.

  29. 29
    Dean Pontjeris Says:

    My opinion is that shisha is better for you then cigarette tobacco. reason is because with cigarettes they put in a lot of additives like formaldehyde and rat poison and what not. were i believe, could be wrong though, that shisha does not have these additives. making it some what healthier.

  30. 30
    Josh Says:

    Let’s face it….smoking anything is bad for you no matter what.

    But what can you get too much of and it still be good for you? NOTHING

    Hookah doesn’t BURN shisha it BAKES it. It doesn’t BAKE high enough to produce TAR. Take a cloth and breathe out cigarette smoke on it then try with shisha. You will notice that the cigarette cloth turns brown (Tar) while no matter how much you try…on the same cloth…there will NEVER be brown. I sat at my hookah for 1 hour blowing air into 1 cloth and I did not get 1 millimeter of brown tar.

    Hookah is not good for you but it definitely is not as worse as smoking comparing the additives. Smoke volume we know that hookah is worse but cigarettes burn and produce tar.

    Cigarettes and hookah are bad for you….but hookah is what you would call “better” than smoking cigarettes.

    Have any of you seen an article about someone dieing from lung cancer admitting to only smoking hookah? Nope…..me either.

  31. 31
    J. Blair Says:

    Let us not forget that nicotine is not the enemy!!! Come on people if its not clean fresh air, its not good for you. If you’re a health freak then dont smoke, but dont try to convince the world that smoking is healthy. Its madness.

  32. 32
    A. Lopez Says:

    I just love how people always want to critize things like hooka smoking, and always forget to do their research. Then along comes an educated person that happens to know plenty of it, did their homework, and make them look like mindless drones hahahaha. I personally loved most of the posts, but its true when you smoke cigarettes theyre designed for one thing and one thing only, not for pleasure but for maximum addiction. plus inhaling the smoke directly delivers more of those things into your system where as with hookas some of that is filtered mostly because the tabbcco itself isnt on fire and youre not inhaling large amounts of CO2 and the tabbacco is treated to contain less nicotine i never heard in my days of a chain hooka smoker haha so until then well keep the coals burning and the smoke rings coming

  33. 33
    A. Lopez Says:

    Heres a link to a video i saw try this with your hooka and maybe those people from the article should too lol

    (this is off one cigarrette)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxK5WufZTu4&feature=related

    [and with the money he spent on 20 packs the guy should have got a date :) ]
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSCeF6eoLZU

  34. 34
    Pillar owner Says:

    I am the owner of a hookah lounge for over five years. I smoke about once a week or so, I’ve never felt the desire to smoke more, and when I’ve smoked less I’ve not had any addictive desires to get a hookah in. I’ve also completed a marathon last year, my running times have not been affected at all by smoking.
    I’ve learned a lot in that time about hookah’s and hookah smoke. First, the WHO article that is the only research I’ve ever seen, is obviously not correct, as many people point out, the tobacco was cooked at much higher temperatures than anyone smokes tobacco. There was not enough tobacco in the bowl. It was being smoked consistently by a machine, not puffed irregularly by a human, and all that was “exhaled” was called smoke. There are obvious flaws with the study. When I clean the bowls at my lounge the tobacco is not burned or charred, it is dry. The smoke is completely different from cigarette smoke, because most of it is water vapor. At one of my businesses we have cigarette smoking at the other we do not, the affect of the cigarette smoke is obvious in the former, it hangs in the air longer and leaves a residue on the walls and couches. I have never seen a single customer that was addicted come through my doors, we have regulars, but when they turn 21 they usually stop coming in because I don’t have a liquor license. Sometimes I wish it was more addictive, (better for sales,) but it simply is not true.
    I wish someone would do a decent study on the affects of hookahs, obviously, it is not good for you, but it clearly isn’t equal to a pack of cigarettes or 100 cigarettes as some articles claim, and very few news sources seem to acknowledge this.

  35. 35
    man Says:

    I’ve smoked shisha once in a while, maybe once every 2 months. I’ve just started and I noticed after I smoked it I cough the nextday. So if I stop smoking will it stop?

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