When keeping kids away from nicotine, the focus of the teens-and-smoking groups has always been on curbing cigarette smoking. But now there’s a new way to take in tobacco: the hookah. Actually, the hookah has a long history, originating in India and finding popularity in the Middle East. Today, it’s gaining a following among teens and young adults, with college kids really taking to the trend.
For those not in the know, a hookah is essentially a water pipe, resembling an ancient form of the bong — with a few differences.
A Study on Hookah Use
A recent Canadian study by the University of Montreal showed that hookahs are extremely popular with 18- to 20-year-old men living away from their parents and with a higher household income than non-users. The report also found that water-pipe smokers are also more likely to use other psychoactive drugs, such as marijuana. Finally, the study showed that rates of hookah use among this age group was three times higher than the year before.
In addition to home use, hookah bars are springing up across the US and in Canada, particularly in larger cities and college towns. These public places to get hooked on hookah may be at least part of the reason for the continued growth in popularity (not to mention the flavored tobaccos mask the nicotine taste). A US study recently published in the American Journal of Health Behavior estimated that 10 to 20 percent of some young adult populations in the United States are water-pipe users.
Is Hookah Safer than Cigarettes?
Another reason hookahs may be growing in popularity is because many of those who are partaking see the habit as healthier than cigarettes because the nicotine passes through water before being inhaled. But recent studies show that water-pipe smoking is no safer than cigarettes. In fact, one study asserted that water-pipe smokers inhale approximately 48 times more smoke than they would through a cigarette. There’s also a carbon monoxide issue.
From Hookahs to Illegal Drugs
The habit may not come with the same risks and dangers of illegal drug use, but there are dangers and hookah use does seem to have some correlation to harder drug use. For those reasons, it’s not something that can be dismissed in treatment and recovery circles – or by parents and loved ones of teens and young adults.
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