If you haven’t heard of hookah smoking you aren’t alone, but many young people are choosing hookah versus cigarettes these days. They aren’t to the level of electronic cigarettes, but the old Middle Eastern water pipe has officially made it big in America. Hoohak lounges are popping up everywhere. The Center for Disease Control reports that since 2011, 2.5% of young smoking adults aged 18 to 24 are on the hookah bandwagon.
This may seem like a small number, but keep in mind that 24% of people that age are using tobacco products, so 2.5% of that isn’t insignificant. Some of us who have been around the e-cig industry for long enough remember the e hookah being very popular at first, and these numbers make us think there should be a resurgence of them.
But the e hookah can’t make a comeback if people are happy with what they are smoking. A prime example is 25 year old Elly Silie, who was interviewed for this story on philly.com recently. She was quoted as saying hookah smoking is “more for the taste and the smoke,” concluding “It’s like having a cigarette without having an actual cigarette.” Sound familiar? It sounds like some people are taking the idea of hookah versus cigarette to a level that we would reserve for electronic cigarettes. It makes us wonder why.
Hookah Smoking May Be Worse Than Cigarettes
Hookah smoking is far from a good option and, contrary to popular belief, isn’t much healthier than traditional tobacco cigarettes.
For starters, the tobacco in these water pipes are still burned, which means they are at least as toxic as cigarette smoke. As any e-cig user will tell you, there is a huge difference between burning tobacco and using a device that simply heats up a substance, whether it is tobacco or e-liquid. Plus, the idea that you are just taking in some hookah smoke instead of puffing away on harmful tobacco cigarettes is simply a façade.
Just one hour of smoking those water pipes (which is a typical amount of time) will equal at least 200 drags on a cigarette. Depending on how you smoke, using a traditional hookah could be the equivalent of smoking close to a pack of cigarettes in an hour!
E-Hookahs And E-Cigs May Be Safer Options
Hookah smoking, not to be confused with the use of an e hookah, also exposes users to various types of cancers and decreases fertility. The question many ask is “is hookah bad?” Basically, the hookah versus cigarettes debate can summed up like this: they are both terrible for you. Young people are filling up cafes that serve hookah, thinking this is a better alternative to traditional tobacco cigarettes. It simply isn’t. You can’t even compare them to electronic cigarettes, which don’t burn tobacco and produce a quickly dissipating vapor as opposed to smoke.
We do get that the social aspect of having one big water pipe in the middle of a group of friends is enticing. For all that e-cig opponents like to rail on our beloved electronic cigarette for drawing in young people, it doesn’t offer nearly the social experience that hookah smoking does. Hanging out at a hookah lounge means there is a venue that is specifically geared toward smoking, and college-aged people are flocking to them.
This should be more of a concern to the public than e-cigarettes, which don’t offer nearly the same social allure and does offer a viable alternative for smokers, something the hookah doesn’t.
Thankfully the interest in hookah smoking still lags far behind that of electronic cigarettes. Smokers are discovering that a high quality vape kit offers value and an alternative. But we worry that people who want to remain part of the social scene will gravitate toward hookahs and may never look back from there. Perhaps it is time to give the e hookah another chance, or convince some of these hookah lounge owners to offer them to their clientele.
If electronic cigarettes are an alternative to traditional tobacco cigarettes, then just perhaps the e hookah can be an alternative to hookah smoking. If it is the communal social even that people are looking for, they can get it in an electronic version that gives them vapor instead of smoke. Regardless, the one thing that we know for sure is that even while hookah smoking gets bigger, e-cigarettes are better.