Hookah Smoking Among Youth on the Rise Despite Drop in Cigarette Use

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Although cigarette smoking among teenagers has gone down considerably in recent years, a new fad has become popular in the form of hookah smoking — a practice that has been around for centuries.

Hookahs, also known as water pipes, are devices that use charcoal to heat up and smoke flavored tobacco. They consist of a head that is connected to a water bowl, a flexible hose and mouthpiece. Tobacco smoke passes through water and is drawn through the hose to the mouthpiece, where it is inhaled by the user.

One recent study shows that one in five high school seniors have used the water pipe within the last year. Adolescents with a high socioeconomic status, males and whites are found to be the majority of hookah users.

The variety of flavors like apple, cherry, skittles, and starburst, as well as the social aspect of going to hookah lounges are noted as a few of the reasons why teenagers enjoy it so much.

One troubling and common misconception surrounding hookah is that it’s less harmful than cigarettes because the tobacco is filtered with water. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, toxins are still present in hookah smoke. And the toxic smoke is said to actually be more harmful since hookah users inhale about 90,000 milliliters of it in a single session compared to just 500 milliliters from a cigarette.

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