The Dangers of Hookah Smoking

If you don’t already know chomas, “hookah smoking” is smoking that involves a water pipe which typically consists of a head that is connected to a water jar. This water jar has an attached hose and mouthpiece. Most people use tobacco and a wet fruit preparation which they place below a burning charcoal in the head of the apparatus. The wet fruit preparation gives the tobacco flavour.

The hookah has many names, the most popular being the ‘hubbly bubbly’, ‘shisa’, ‘argileh’ or the ‘goza’. It looks nothing like a cigarette but, according to health experts smoking a hubbly bubbly or tobacco water pipe for at least an hour is as harmful as smoking up to 200 cigarettes. There is this misconception that smoking hookah is not as harmful as smoking cigarettes.

A hubbly bubbly is almost always used to smoke tobacco and this explains why it carries many of the dangers similar to cigarette smoking. The water does not filter out any of the toxins in the hubbly bubbly.

Hubbly bubblies are so dangerous to your health that they have become the next target in the battle against respiratory diseases in Cape Town. City Health is strategising to seek for more legislative clarity on the hookah. A member of the mayoral committee for health, Councillor Benedicta van Minnen, mentioned that the city would push hard for complete laws to govern the smoking of the hookah pipes.

According to CANSA (The Cancer Association of South Africa), there are three popular myths associated with smoking the hubbly bubbly.

Myth 1: Less harmful than cigarettes

As mentioned earlier, this is not true at all. Hookah smokers, and second hand smokers, are at the risk of the same kind of diseases that are caused by cigarette smoking. These diseases include cancer and heart respiratory diseases. The smoke coming from the hookah has several toxins which are known to cause lung cancer and other diseases. This is according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Myth 2: Hookah smoke is less harmful

Not true! Hookah smokers and second hand smokers (people exposed to the smoke of a hookah smoker) inhale a double dose of toxins. This means that there are two times more toxins found in the hubbly bubbly than in cigarettes.

Myth 3: Not addictive

Tobacco is addictive, you have seen this warning on cigarettes packets, right chomas? This means that the tobacco found in a hubbly bubbly is just as addictive as the tobacco found in cigarettes. The more frequent you smoke a hubbly bubbly, the higher the chance of you being addicted to it.

Smoking a hubbly bubbly is becoming an increasingly popular activity, mainly because it is seen as a fun way to get together with friends but when you’re young, your lungs are still growing and smoking the hookah can cause permanent damage.

Tobacco found in cigarettes is just as dangerous as the tobacco found in the hubbly bubbly, no matter what the flavour. It is not a safe substitute to smoking cigarettes chomas, it can be deadly too.