Hookah, an alternative form of smoking tobacco, is a popular pastime in the Middle East and Asia. Created by Persian physician Abu’l-Fath Gilani, the instrument passes tobacco through a water pipe in the form of vapor for the user to inhale. Although many people believe that smoking hookah is safer than cigarettes, an extensive 2010 study found the opposite. In one hour, hookah smokers smoke larger amounts of tobacco (90,000 millimeters) than cigarette smokers (600 millimeters).
One session of the vapor-based instrument can be equivalent to up to 40 to 400 cigarettes. Hence, hookah smoking is not any less safe as cigarettes and there’s a higher risk of more potential health hazards. The vapor-based smoke contains 36 times more tar, 15 times more carbon monoxide, and 70% more nicotine than smoking a cigarette. Therefore, smokers risk absorbing more cancer-causing chemicals along with the contamination of the water.
With these potentially devastating risks coming to light, the World Health Organization has recommended smokers who need a nicotine fix to transition to e-cigarettes. The alternative contains 450 times fewer toxicants and is less financially taxing. However, no matter the variation of nicotine and tobacco smoking, individuals should be aware of the long term risks of cancer and diseases and should consult professionals on smoking cessation.