While cigarette smoking is decreasing, other forms of nicotine and tobacco smoking are increasing. A recent survey found that 1 in 5 high school seniors reported smoking from a hookah in the past year and more than a third of those were regular users. In fact, hookah use surpassed cigarette smoking for the first time in history this year. But, is smoking from a hookah better or worse than cigarettes?
Researchers from a new study reviewed 54 scientific articles related to hookah and cigarette smoking. Afterwards, they analyzed the results from the 17 studies with the most robust data in a meta analysis. The results were not good for hookah users. The researchers found that one hookah session delivers approximately 125 times the amount of smoke, 25 times the tar, 2.5 times the nicotine and 10 times the carbon monoxide. The dizzy feeling users experience after smoking a hookah could actually be mild carbon monoxide poisoning according to another study.
As to which is worse for you, 1 hookah session is clearly worse than one cigarette. However, we can’t conclude from this study whether 1 hookah session a day is worse than a pack of cigarettes a day, for example. Suffice it to say that both are really bad for you.
Using a hookah is not a healthy alternative to cigarette smoking. This study indicates that it might be even worse. You might not end up looking like Jaba the Hutt, but smoking from a hookah certainly isn’t going to do you any favors.
Ashurst, John V., Megan Urquhart, and Matthew D. Cook. “Carbon monoxide poisoning secondary to hookah smoking.” The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association 112.10 (2012): 686-688.