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Smoking a pipe: is it safer than smoking?



Is water pipe safer than smoking cigarettes?

Answer by J. Taylor Hays, MD

Hookah smoking is no safer than cigarette smoking.

Also known as Narghile, Shisha or Goza, a water pipe, is a water pipe with a smoke chamber, a bowl, a pipe and a hose. Specially made tobacco is heated and the smoke flows through water and is then drawn through a rubber tube to a mouthpiece.

The tobacco is no less poisonous in a hookah than in a cigarette and the water in the hookah does not filter out the toxic ingredients in the tobacco smoke. Hookah smokers can actually inhale more tobacco smoke than cigarette smokers because they inhale large amounts of smoke in a smoke session, which can take up to 60 minutes.

While research on the smoking of hookahs is still evolving, this evidence shows many dangers:

  • Hookah smoke contains many toxic compounds, including tar, carbon monoxide, heavy metals, and carcinogens. In fact, shisha smokers are exposed to more carbon monoxide and smoke than cigarette smokers.
  • As with smoking cigarettes, hookah smoking is associated with lung and oral cancer, heart disease and other serious illnesses.
  • Hookah smoking provides about the same amount of nicotine as cigarette smoking, potentially leading to tobacco dependence.
  • Waterpipe smoke poses hazards associated with secondhand smoke.
  • Waterpipe smoking by pregnant women can lead to low birthweight babies.
  • Water pipes used In hookah bars and cafés, infectious diseases may not be properly cleaned.

Updated: 2015-06-17

Release date: 2015-06-17


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