Alarm bells have been sounded… for young people who put hookah, or the water pipe, high on their coolness quotient. A study by the University of Montreal says that hookah is more harmful than smoking cigarettes as it is high on nicotine, carbon monoxide and carcinogens with great amounts of tar and heavy metals.
“Smoking hookah makes you vulnerable to obstructive airway diseases such as chronic bronchitis and even cancer of urinary bladder or stomach,” says Dr Atul Bhasin, senior consultant, Dr BL Kapur Memorial Hospital.
More alarming is the fact that most hip hookah or sheesha bars in Delhi don’t mind serving underage guests. Even though the bar owners vehemently deny breaking the law, young kids, some even in school uniform, can often be spotted trying out a puff at the Capital’s swish hookah bars.
Vivek Sharma of Pipa Hookah Lounge in Noida, says, “The hookah we serve contains mere 0.5 per cent nicotine and no tar.” “We don’t serve nicotine hookah. We ask for an age proof,” says Rajneesh Malik of Hookah Bar & Lounge in Vasant Vihar.
Boys and girls as young as 16, however, say that no age proof is generally asked for. “ I often go with friends to a hookah bar in Vasant Vihar but no one asked for an ID,” says Parthav Gogoi, a class X student of a reputed public school.
“We don’t smoke cigarettes, but what’s the harm in having the water pipe? My college going friends frequent the hookah bars and it’s so cool. We’ve been told that it has no nicotine” says Tanu Tamang, 16, a class XI student.
Sohrab Sitaram of 400 Asianstonegrill, however, clarifies, “Anyone who says that hookah doesn’t have nicotine, is talking bulls***. Hookah, flavoured or not, contains nicotine.” He adds, “Hookahs are the hottest selling item at my place.”