Do you smoke hookah in the house with other nonsmokers? If so, you might be the many people who leave the room out of respect. However, is that enough? Let’s look at the facts!
A new study by NYU Abu Dhabi Public Health Research Center found that even when going to an adjacent room, Hookah smoke created more air pollution than cigarette smoke. The study took place in 33 homes. 10 of those homes were nonsmoking, 12 with only cigarettes and 11 with hookah smoking. The study found that air pollution was not only higher for hookah than cigarettes in the same room but 2.5-4 times greater in neighboring rooms (1, 2)
Why is Hookah so dangerous?
The problem is the charcoal itself when burned emits dangerous substances such as carbon monoxide, and dangerous metals such as zinc, iron, and aluminum at levels greater than cigarette smoke. A study by Elsayed et al showed that the hookah charcoal alone emitted “a total of seven carcinogens, 39 central nervous system depressants, and 31 respiratory irritants” (3,4).
People claim that Hookah is safe because you are vaporizing not combusting the substance. This is partially true as some studies show that vaping is estimated to be “95% less harmful than smoking” (5). However, studies do show traces of formaldehyde and benzene in secondhand emissions and formaldehyde and acetaldehyde among other nasty substances in the vapor (6). There are also some concerns on the flavoring. The FDA labels the flavoring as generally recognized as safe, but ingesting is different than inhaling. For example, many e-liquids contained at least one of these ingredients diacetyl, acetoin, and 2, 3-pentanedione where there is emerging evidence that this can cause severe respiratory diseases such as popcorn lung disease. If you buy non-reputable brands, who knows what you are inhaling (2, 7, 8).
Hookah Smoking Session Duration:
The average hookah session is an hour. According to the CDC that would make up 200 puffs while a cigarette is 25. The amount of smoke inhaled from a hookah puff is 90,000 ml, compared with 500–600 ml from a cigarette (9). Unlike cigarettes, hookah smokers are also known to really hold in the smoke, blow the massive amount of exhaled smoke in someone’s face and overindulge due to the pleasing taste consequentially exposing you to even more unnecessary smoke.
The main focus of this article should be the first citation as this is a new area of study but I thought the additional facts couldn’t hurt. A lot of people might mean well by going into another room but please think twice after reading this study. If you have children or live in an apartment building, please, understand that your decisions affect others as well. Although Hookah and cigarettes have been studied a lot more than e-cigarettes, don’t risk it. Some people are much more susceptible than others. Enjoy your vice outdoors, enjoy the soothing noise of an air purifier or at the very least crack a window. What the heck, just quit.
(1) Weitzman M, e. (2016). Effects of hookah smoking on indoor air quality in homes. – PubMed – NCBI . Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 11 November 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27798320
(2) Dhabi, N. (2016). NYU Abu Dhabi study shows secondhand shisha smoke is worse than secondhand smoke from cigarettes – NYU Abu Dhabi . Nyuad.nyu.edu. Retrieved 11 November 2016, from http://nyuad.nyu.edu/content/nyuad/en/home/news/press-room/press-releases/nyu-abu-dhabi-study-shows-secondhand-shisha-smoke.html
(3) Elsayed Y, e. (2016). Chemical analysis and potential health risks of hookah charcoal. – PubMed – NCBI . Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 11 November 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27343945
(4) (2016). Lungusa2.org. Retrieved 11 November 2016, from http://www.lungusa2.org/embargo/slati/Trendalert_Waterpipes.pdf
(5) E-cigarettes around 95% less harmful than tobacco estimates landmark review – Press releases – GOV.UK. (2015). Gov.uk. Retrieved 11 November 2016, from https://www.gov.uk/government/news/e-cigarettes-around-95-less-harmful-than-tobacco-estimates-landmark-review
(6) E-cigarettes and Lung Health. (2016). American Lung Association. Retrieved 11 November 2016, from http://www.lung.org/stop-smoking/smoking-facts/e-cigarettes-and-lung-health.html?referrer=http://www.livescience.com/54754-what-e-cigarettes-do-in-your-body.html
(7) Chemicals linked with severe respiratory disease found in common e-cigarette flavors. (2015). News. Retrieved 11 November 2016, from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/e-cigarette-flavoring-chemicals-linked-to-respiratory-disease/
(8) CDC – Flavorings-Related Lung Disease: Exposures to Flavoring Chemicals – NIOSH Workplace Safety and Health Topic. (2016). Cdc.gov. Retrieved 11 November 2016, from http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/flavorings/exposure.html
(9) Caroline Cobb, T. (2010). Waterpipe Tobacco Smoking: An Emerging Health Crisis in the United States. American Journal Of Health Behavior, 34(3), 275. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3215592/