Which is Worse, Hookah or Cigarettes?

Hookah (noun): a tobacco pipe of Near Eastern origin with a long, flexible tube by which the smoke is drawn through a jar of water and thus cooled. (dictionary.com) A picture of it can be seen here
What was once a Middle Eastern pastime is now a growing trend among college students. Hookah can be used as a social tool or for one's simple enjoyment. It has grown popular over the years due to its many flavors, such as apple and chocolate, and because of the common belief that smoking a water pipe isn't hazardous to one's health. People often believe hookah has no effect on their bodies because they believe the water in the hookah pipe captures the toxins featured in the tobacco. Also, there is no distinct bad smell that comes out of a hookah pipe, as opposed to cigarettes that give off the strong smell of smoke the moment they're lit. So..if it smells good, then it must be good for you right?

Wrong! The myth of hookah not being bad for you and it being healthier than cigarettes is all false. People know cigarettes are bad because it says so across the packaging. In hookah, it's less obvious. The water of the hookah pipe cools down the smoke so it feels less harsh in one's mouth. But the truth is, one hookah session, which is about an hour, is equivalent to  smoking 100 cigarettes! The filter that is found in the yellow part of a cigarette is absent in a hookah. Therefore, the nicotine and tobacco can directly enter one's body. The nicotine causes addiction and the tobacco causes diseases such as heart disease. 

Another reason why smoking hookah is worse than smoking cigarettes is, inhaling hookah smoke takes longer than inhaling cigarette smoke. So breathing in a long drag of unfiltered nicotine filled smoke is obviously more hazardous than inhaling cigarette smoke. Also, the charcoal required for a hookah pipe emits carbon monoxide, carcinogens, and toxins. All of which increases the risk of cancer. 

So the question to ask now is, despite all the obvious health risks of smoking and excluding the people who are addicted to smoking, why do people still smoke? 


OMG! I know we're not supposed to use acronyms or slang here but I can't believe that. I never thought of the implications of the harmful effects that hookah smoke could have on my body. I figured it wasn't as harmful as cigarettes and to be honest I didn't think hookah was harmful at all (especially with the flavors and smells)! The answer to your last question is I don't believe people are aware of the health implications that go along with doing hookah. Like you stated earlier, people are almost oblivious to the harmful effects because our senses of taste and smell to the hookah. 100 cigarettes per hour of smoking hookah? So do we have a greater chance of having lung cancer if we smoke frequently? This is quite scary.

I've only smoked Hookah once or twice but I have always been so confused on whether it was true that it was bad or good. At first someone told me it was good for you with the fruity flavors and what not then I heard extremely bad. I'm actually glad someone did a blog on this to get the word out there because all along I just thought it wasn't that bad for you. I mean it's obvious cigarettes are, I mean it's pounded into our brains daily but it's nice to know to try and stay away from hookah as well.

I am very glad you wrote this article, as I never believed my peers when they would argue, "Smoking Hookah isn't bad for you, etc."

I don't understand how any smoke, whether is be cigarettes or Hookah, could not be harmful to your health.

I decided to do a little more research, and this taught me a lot more about the myths surrounding Hookah.

Apparently some people believe that because the smoke is filtered through water, the harmful cancer-causing chemicals are gone, and that is simply not true.

It also states that hookah smoke is known to contain more tar, lead, arsenic, nickel, and carbon monoxide than a single cigarette.

As someone who has smoked hookah but never cigarettes, this is definitely the first time I have heard that it can be just as harmful to someone. But I think that if the majority of people knew that, it would still be more popular than cigarettes because it has a good taste and also for the social aspect (you can go to a hookah bar with friends or even chill out with people outside your dorm with a hookah). Also, people will smoke multiple cigarettes every day (sometimes even a whole carton) whereas smoking hookah is not necessarily a daily thing. A lot of people will only smoke hookah every once in a while, which balances out with the constant smoking of cigarettes. This will definitely make me think twice about using hookah, but I can't say I would never do it again.

This was a very interesting post. I do not smoke either but it was news to me that it is actually just as harmful. Walking home to Mckean hall in east seeing the nightly hookah smokers was always quite a seen. I just assumed by the better smell of hookah compared to cigarette smoke it almost had to be better for you. Overall this was an awesome post, but I am curious. Have you thought about adding in a 3rd factor and comparing the use of marijuana smoke as well?

The information in this article is very surprising to me. It seems like the other people who commented are in the same boat as I. Why don't people know about the bad effects of Hookah? Is it because Hookah is a fairly new smoking habit? After thinking about it more, it does make sense that Hookah is harmful. I never smoked it myself, but what I've heard is that it makes you lightheaded. To get lightheaded, there has to be some sort of bad effect on your body. I think there needs to be some caution sign that warns people of the effects of Hookah. I think the biggest problem is that people are just unaware of it's effects.

I find this post to be very interesting because I know of many people who frequently smoke hookah and believe that it will provide no problems for their health condition or bodies. If hookah is almost just as bad, if not worse, than cigarettes (which I can definitely agree with), then why does it not have the same warning labels as cigarettes? I think that if people were more aware of the dangers of hookah smoking as they are aware of the dangers of smoking cigarettes then they would be more reluctant to try it.

You talked about the tar and carbon monoxide levels between both and said that hookah emits more when you smoke. But what about the other bad chemicals that are in cigarettes but not hookah such as ammonia, arsenic, methane, butane, and methanol? If you take into account all of the other chemicals that are used to make cigarettes, do you still think smoking cigarettes is better for you than hookah?

Wow, this was a shock for me also. I was told hookah tobacco is nicotine free, thus addiction free, I assumed too much tobacco use still had the negative health affects that cigarettes have which is one reason I do not smoke. But I actually do own a hookah, that I have probably used a total of 3 times because I find it more time consuming and tedious than anything else. And as someone who does not smoke, flavor or no-flavor, smoke still tastes like smoke. But I did want to point out that there are filters, like these, that can be placed into the mouthpiece of a hookah pipe that will filter out (at least) some of those bad toxins in the tobacco. I do not claim to know anything about how effective these are, but if you hookah smokers out there want to research it and use them, it is a starting point!

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