Hookah, the Social Smoking Trend

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Kimberly Cohen
  • 9th AMDS
In recent years, smoking hookah has become a Western trend upon social smokers. Hookah lounges have become popular among urban cities. There are a variety of tobacco flavors making hookah more appealing to smokers. Although smoking hookah may not seem as caustic as smoking cigarettes, harmful effects such as risk factors for various cancers, heart disease, and nicotine addiction still exist.

The hookah has been a social smoking tradition dating back to the 12th century in the Middle East. Typically, a smoking session lasts from one to several hours and most commonly appeals to college aged young adults. The tobacco smoke is generated by a continuous heat source (charcoal) and inhaled through a hose that connects to the base filled with water. Concerning charcoal emissions include carbon monoxide and polyaromatic hydrocarbons, which are considered toxins and have carcinogenic effects. During a long smoking session, users are exposed to cancer causing emissions for up to several hours. However, the sweeteners used to flavor the tobacco give a pleasant caramel smell that appeals to users and masks the harmful vapors.

Risk factors include lung and oral cancers, periodontal disease, and heavy staining. A typical smoking session is shown to deliver 10-15% more nicotine than a cigarette and increases nicotine addiction tendencies. Another risk factor from smoking hookah is the spread of communicable diseases by sharing the mouthpiece to inhale the smoke from the tube. Examples of shared diseases include tuberculosis, herpes simplex virus (cold sores), influenza, and common colds. It is important to know the risks of smoking all varieties of tobacco even though it may be flavored and smell good to most users. The idea that the water vapors produced in the hookah make it a safer to smoke is false.

Educate yourself, promote a healthier lifestyle, and don't give into peer pressure. If you are interested in tobacco cessation, contact the HAWC at 530-634-3594 or email nancy.henry@beale.af.mil. There are three options available to fit everyone's needs:

1. Fresh Start Tobacco Cessation Program - First Tuesday of each month at 1500 and lasts four weeks.
2. An on-line program that lasts 12 weeks.
3. Telephone program that lasts 12 weeks.

To receive medication you must provide follow up information and be able to be contacted throughout the on-line and telephone program. IF YOU ARE ON FLY STATUS you must go through Flight Medicine if you are requesting medication. Call x4730 for a telephone consult. You must be enrolled in both TRICARE and 9 MDG to be eligible for medication using this program. Follow the advice given and you'll be on the road to a tobacco free life!

Reference: American Dental Hygienists' Association (ADHA) Journal; Mar 2012 p. 9-11