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Letter to the editor

Hookah article evokes response, controversy

October 7, 2010

Regarding Amanda Ogle’s column entitled “Hookahs more dangerous than cigarettes” the author has made the same mistake as has been made in nearly every single study and publication regarding the health hazards of hookah smoking. In such studies, cigarettes and shisha are incinerated in a closed container where the smoke is then analyzed by sensors that monitor tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide levels. According to these results, it is concluded that shisha is much more hazardous to your health than cigarettes. What people are largely ignorant to is the anatomy of a hookah and how it actually functions as a smoking device. When using a hookah, the shisha (tobacco) is in fact not incinerated as with a cigarette but instead is vaporized; that is, heated to a point that releases nicotine and flavors from the tobacco without actually burning it. When one “smokes” hookah, they are inhaling vapor, not smoke. Since there is no combustion taking place, it is nearly impossible to produce tar and carbon monoxide.

Still not convinced? Anyone brave enough to compare hookah “smoke” to cigarette smoke would undoubtedly notice they are not similar in any way. While cigarette smoke feels heavy and harsh in your lungs, hookah “smoke” feels just like breathing in air. This should not be surprising considering the fact that the vapor is largely composed of oxygen from evaporated moisture in the shisha. It is no wonder that hookah smoking is gaining popularity amongst bright college students ages 18-24 that actively educate themselves past popular media articles found with a Google search.

Jabez Meulemans
Student