A hookah, also referred to as waterpipe, is a single or multi-stemmed instrument for smoking in which the smoke is cooled and filtered by passing through water. After tobacco was introduced in India from Europe, it was used in the hookahs invented by the Mughal emperors in this region for their luxury. What started as a status symbol for the aristocrats and bureaucrats of Mughal India has now engulfed the whole world with its smoke. “It’s hip, it’s hot, and it’s now” this seems to be the mantra for the youth which seems to be infectiously drawn towards it. The structure of a hookah consists of a bowl, a hose, a purge valve, and a water jar. The bowl is made up of clay, fixed at the head of the instrument to hold the tobacco with hot coal put over it to burn it. The hose is a flexible pipe attached to the main body that draws the smoke away from the water jar through inhalation. The purge valve is a tiny opening situated in the water jar that purges out the stale smoke that has not been inhaled. The water jar is where the smoke goes to cool itself down after being created in the main bowl. It is then pulled out of there through inhalation. There seems to be a whole community divide as to whether smoking a hookah is safer than cigarettes or not. While the purists stick to defending that it is definitely safer because the water in the hookah filters out the bad stuff from the tobacco smoke, the ones on the other side claim totally opposite that large amount of smoke inhalation increases the amount of risk in greater proportions. Browse through some of these interesting facts about hookah and decide for yourself.
Facts About Hookah
- The origin of hookah smoking can be dated millennia back and its initial traces have been found in the northwestern provinces of India, alongside the border of Pakistan, in the state of Rajasthan and Gujarat.
- It was invented in India in the court of the Mughal emperor Akbar, by Hakim Abul Fateh Gilani, who was a physician. After raising concerns about smoking tobacco, he subsequently conceived a system which allowed smoke to be passed through water in order to be ‘purified’.
- Gilani invented the hookah after Asad Beg, the then ambassador of Bijapur, encouraged Akbar to take up smoking.
- Hookah goes by many other names such as waterpipe, goza, hubble-bubble, borry, arhile, and narghile.
- Apple, plum, coconut, mango, mint, and strawberry are some of the most preferred flavors of sheesha or tobacco.
- In the United Kingdom, hookah cafes or “Shisha Bars” exist in most major cities. London’s Edgware Road area is noted for its high distribution of shops which serve hookah, but hookah cafes can be found in most cities in the south as well.
- The idea that hookah is not as dangerous as cigarettes is a popular misconception. Studies suggest that having a hookah over a prolonged session is as damaging as having cigarettes.
- Each hookah session typically lasts more than 40 minutes, and consists of 50 – 200 puffs which range from 0.15 – 0.50 ltr per puff.
- 45 minutes of hookah smoking is equivalent to smoking 50 tobacco cigarettes.
- In a hookah session of one hour, a person inhales approximately 100 - 200 times the smoke and about 70 times nicotine, high levels of lead, nickel and arsenic, 20 - 30 times more tar and CO.
- Since a hookah session is usually meant for a group of people, there's a risk of getting diseases that are spread through the mouth and saliva - flu, cold, mouth herpes.
- Continuous smoking of hookah may lead to impotency, breathing problems, and infertility.
- It takes more effort to pull smoke out through the hookah, making a person inhale drags of nicotine and other stuff that's harmful.
- There are over 250 different kinds of hookah flavors, and rising. The flavored hookahs such as mint, chocolate and coffee, are in no way less harmful than common tobacco and contains the same amount of nicotine and tobacco.
- Hookah contains about 70 cancer-causing agents (carcinogens).
Going to the cafes and chains that offer hookah smoking experience may be fun and the “in thing”, but make sure you know what you’re losing out on!