Is Hookah Worse Than Cigarettes?
Hookah has become more popular in recent inhalation trends, coming out of the niche pockets it dominated in the U.S. It’s a wonderful social experience to have with friends and loved ones. It makes for a great time, great conversation, and huge smoke. Bringing smoke into your lungs, however, is never a completely healthy practice. The natural question that follows is: is smoking hookah worse than smoking cigarettes?
Short answer? Probably, but it’s complicated.
Long answer? It depends on what you’re measuring. The Hookah vs. Cigarette conversation has a few nuances that make the answer a little less straightforward. Let’s take a look at some of the things to keep in mind.
Many people believe hookah to be automatically healthier than regular cigarettes since the water “filters” the smoke from the charcoal, making the pull essentially harmless. Unfortunately, this isn’t true at all. The water does very little, if anything, to curb any harm from the smoke, and smoke from the charcoal is quite toxic.
The advantage that hookah does hold over cigarettes is that you don’t carry a hookah around with you all day, every day. You could spend every break outside smoking a pack of cigarettes, but you probably aren’t going to head home to smoke from your hookah on your free half hour. That being said, a pull from a hookah is much bigger, and even just an hour-long session is enough to be plenty comparable to regular cigarette use. For most smokers, hookah is likely to be just as harmful, if not more harmful, to their personal health than cigarettes.
Another important caveat is what exactly it is that you’re smoking. If your shisha contains nicotine, you might be struggling with “needing” to keep smoking in either case. If your shisha contains another substance, then the conversation is slightly different.
Compare a hookah session every once in a while to a cigarette break several times a day and the odds might tip the other way. Hookah pulls are still comparatively more harmful, but making a hookah session more of an occasion and less routine can make for a healthier smoking experience.
One of the biggest worries that accompany cigarette smoke is the fact that smoking cigarettes affects more people than just the smoker. Secondhand smoke is a real worry, and it can seriously harm people around you that never smoke in the first place. On top of that, cigarette smoke can harm the walls and furniture of wherever it is that you’re smoking. It can stain and leave scents behind that can be even impossible to get rid of.
Secondhand smoke from hookahs is still an issue, but not as harmful as secondhand smoke from cigarettes. The effects themselves are less drastic and, of course, being next to somebody smoking from a hookah is a little more difficult to do by accident or coincidence. As far as not harming the people around you, your friends and loved ones, hookah is likely to be the better option.
Altogether, it really means what you mean by “worse.” Hookah is more immediately harmful for the smoker, but less harmful secondhand. Toxins are more, but it might be easier to smoke less often. Hookah is not a straightforward healthier alternative to cigarettes, but these are some important caveats to take into account if wondering whether hookah is for you.