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World No Tobacco Day 2020: Health Risks Of Smoking Hookah

Every year, World No Tobacco Day is observed on 31 May. The day revolves around raising awareness on the dangers of using tobacco. World No Tobacco Day was created in 1987 by the Member States of the World Health Organization to draw attention to the tobacco epidemic and the preventable death and disease it causes.

The theme for the World No Tobacco Day 2020 is #TobaccoExposed, where the WHO tries to debunk myths and expose devious tactics employed by the tobacco industries. For World No Tobacco Day 2020, the World Health Organisation focuses on protecting youth from industry manipulation and preventing the use of tobacco and nicotine.

Be it in movies or in ancient art, we have all seen people holding a long pipe and blowing out smokes for merriment. The traditional form of cigarettes, hookah is something that has not lost its popularity over the years. Even with the advent of various other innovations, hookah still remains a favourite among the masses. So basically, a hookah is a water pipe that is used for smoking tobacco. The pipe is normally large in size and consists of a water chamber, a tobacco chamber, and one or more tubes that are flexible, allowing more than one smokers to use the hookah at the same [1] .

The tobacco used in a hookah is often sweetened with fruit pulp, honey, additional flavours like coconut, fruit flavours, mint, or coffee. The flavourings used in hookah tobacco is one of the major factors causing it to be a favourite among youngsters. However, in the shade of the fun and joy the smoke provides you, people often tend to overlook the arduous health risks it can have on your body.

Having been in use for more than 400 years, hookah was invented over the misbelief of the inventor that the water would minimise the health risks posed by tobacco, before inhalation. Let us get to know the negative ways through which hookah smoking can affect your health[2] [3] .

Toxins In Hookah

Though using cold water can ease the harsh effect on your lungs, the tobacco and the smoke from it contain various toxins such as the following[4] :

  • Polonium 210, a radioactive isotope
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Tar
  • Arsenic
  • Acetaldehyde
  • Cobalt
  • Cadmium
  • Nickel
  • Formaldehyde
  • Lead
  • Acrolein
  • Chromium

Health Risks Of Hookah Smoking

A person can get affected not only by smoking hookah but also by inhaling the smoke, which can happen if you are sitting close to the person smoking. People are often lead to believe that hookah smoking is safe when compared to that of cigarette smoking. However, that is entirely false as hookah smokers are at risk for as cigarette smokers are[5] [6] [7] [8] [9] .

Some of the common health risks associated with hookah smoking are as follows:

Premature ageing, because smoking tobacco can decrease the amount of oxygen that reaches your skin and cause it to look aged with blemishes, dark spots and wrinkles.

  • Increased risk of infectious diseases such as mononucleosis and oral herpes.
  • Increased risk of cancer such as oral cancer, lung cancer, stomach cancer and oesophagal cancer.
  • Complications with the functioning of lungs such as bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases.
  • Risk of heart conditions such as heart disease and heart attack.

On An Endnote....

Although it is more than often considered that smoking hookah is safer than smoking a cigarette. But various studies reveal, with scientific evidence, that hookah smoking is equally hazardous to your health and wellbeing [10] . Therefore, the next time you are pushed towards taking a puff from the pipe to 'fit in', consider the negative effects it can have on you.

View Article References
  1. [1] Aljarrah, K., Ababneh, Z. Q., & Al-Delaimy, W. K. (2009). Perceptions of hookah smoking harmfulness: predictors and characteristics among current hookah users. Tobacco induced diseases, 5(1), 16.
  2. [2] Gatrad, R., Gatrad, A., & Sheikh, A. (2007). Hookah smoking. Bmj, 335(7609), 20-20.
  3. [3] Sajid, K. M., Chaouachi, K., & Mahmood, R. (2008). Hookah smoking and cancer: carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) levels in exclusive/ever hookah smokers. Harm Reduction Journal, 5(1), 19.
  4. [4] Sterling, K. L., & Mermelstein, R. (2011). Examining hookah smoking among a cohort of adolescent ever smokers. Nicotine & tobacco research, 13(12), 1202-1209.
  5. [5] Dar, N. A., Bhat, G. A., Shah, I. A., Iqbal, B., Kakhdoomi, M. A., Nisar, I., ... & Shah, S. A. (2012). Hookah smoking, nass chewing, and oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma in Kashmir, India. British journal of cancer, 107(9), 1618.
  6. [6] El-Zaatari, Z. M., Chami, H. A., & Zaatari, G. S. (2015). Health effects associated with waterpipe smoking. Tobacco control, 24(Suppl 1), i31-i43.
  7. [7] Cobb, C., Ward, K. D., Maziak, W., Shihadeh, A. L., & Eissenberg, T. (2010). Waterpipe tobacco smoking: an emerging health crisis in the United States. American journal of health behavior, 34(3), 275-285.
  8. [8] Maziak, W. (2011). The global epidemic of waterpipe smoking. Addictive behaviors, 36(1-2), 1-5.
  9. [9] Knishkowy, B., & Amitai, Y. (2005). Water-pipe (narghile) smoking: an emerging health risk behavior. Pediatrics-English Edition, 116(1), e113.
  10. [10] Bhatnagar, A., Maziak, W., Eissenberg, T., Ward, K., Thurston, G., King, B., ... & Rezk-Hanna, M. (2019). Water Pipe (Hookah) Smoking and Cardiovascular Disease Risk. Circulation, 139(19).
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