Slowly but steadily, hookah lounges have become an essential part of the modern luxuries in the U.S. In the mid 2000s, hookah lounges or sheesha bars began to pop up in college towns, and have since become more prevalent in major cities across the country.
Hookah or sheesha, meaning glass in Hindi, originated in the Middle East. Hookahs have been around since the 1960s, and were mainly used to smoke opium and hashish.
Originally hookahs had nothing to do with loftiness or vanity. Primitively they were made with coconut shells as bases. When the concept of hookah entered Turkey the look of the device would evolve into what we are used to seeing now, a glass base with a smoking pipe attached.
Smoking hookahs or wind pipes would go on to be a luxury of the upper class and intellectuals of society.
Even today, the historic royalness once associated with smoking hookah arouses a great amount of curiosity to try it, especially among young adults.
According to a survey conducted by The California Behavioral Risk Factor in 2013, 45 percent of all people who have used hookahs are between the age group 18 to 24.
Most urban professionals indulge in smoking tobacco through hookahs as a trendy pass time activity and are unaware of its harmful effects, and usually later fall prey to tobacco addiction.
As per a study conducted by the University of California, San Francisco, the urine levels of benzene byproducts, which are associated with severe leukemia risk and breath levels of carbon monoxide, were higher after smoking hookah, as compared to smoking cigarettes.
The researchers found that the participants of the study inhaled acrylamide, known to cause damage to the nervous system, acrolein, known to irritate the eye, throat and nose, benzene, carbon monoxide and naphthalene, are known to damage red blood cells. These chemicals are absorbed in the body after a person smokes hookah.
Levels of benzene byproduct were doubled and breath levels of carbon monoxide were more than doubled after the participants smoked hookah.
Until the results of this study came out, even I was hardly aware of the health hazards occasional hookah smoking can cause.
The trend of selling fruity flavored hookahs allures many individuals to consume these harmful products. And this may misguide many teens and young adults as a “safer” option for tobacco consumption. Using hookah to smoke tobacco—even when it comes in watermelon, lemon-mint or caramel apple flavors can cause damage to your health. It may smell good and taste good but is equally as dangerous as smoking cigarettes.
In hookahs, tobacco is burned to generate the smoke. Charcoal, used in heating tobacco inside the hookah instrument produces high levels of carbon monoxide, metals and cancer-causing chemicals.
In addition to this, in most hookah lounges, people share their hookahs, which can spread diseases like meningitis, tuberculosis and Hepatitis A.
Citing health concerns, Norco, Calif. along with a few other inland cities proposed a ban on hookah lounges. And Norco is not the only city trying to put a stop to hookah establishments.
Recently, in New York City, 13 hookah bars were caught violating the city’s indoor smoking ban, which prevents serving tobacco with sheesha. All 13 bars are scheduled to be shut down by the city council authorities.
If you are addicted to any form of smoking– hookah or cigarettes–try to call it quits immediately. Here are 5 tips from SmokeFree.gov, that can help you avoid smoking triggers.
And if you are a non-smoker, try to spread awareness about the health hazards of smoking tobacco.