Cigarettes vs hookahs: Which do you think will kill you sooner?

  • ANI, New Delhi
  • Updated: May 31, 2016 17:40 IST
According to doctors, smoking hookah is several times more dangerous than smoking cigarettes. (Shutterstock)

You do not smoke cigarettes because it is harmful for health but you smoke hookahs, which you think are relatively safer. Well, it’s time you think again for according to doctors, hookah smoking is several times more dangerous than smoking cigarettes.

As per a study provided by Dr Vivek Nangia, director and head of pulmonology department of Fortis Flt. Lt. Rajan Dhall Hospital in the national capital, shows that smoking hookah is way more harmful.

It is presumed that the water absorbs the toxins from the smoke rendering it safe for the smoker. On the contrary, the smoke that emerges from the water bowl has several toxicants known to cause lung cancer, heart diseases and other diseases.

Read: Beyond cancer and bad breath: Lesser known effects of smoking

In fact, a hookah smoking session may expose the smoker to more smoke than over a longer period of time than cigarette thus increasing the hazards by many folds. Cigarettes smokers typically smoke a cigarette for five to seven minutes taking eight to twelve puffs of 40-75 ml each.

In total contrast, hookah smoking session lasts 30-80 minutes or even longer and a smoker inhales almost a litre of smoke which is equivalent to 100 or more cigarettes in one session.

This smoke contains high levels of toxic compounds, including tar, carbon monoxide, heavy metals and cancer-causing chemicals (carcinogens). It contains the same amount of nicotine as cigarette smoking, possibly leading to tobacco dependence.

Health hazards

1. The charcoal used to heat the tobacco can produces high levels of carbon monoxide, metals, and cancer-causing chemicals.

2. The tobacco and smoke contain several toxic agents known to cause lung, bladder, and oral cancers.

3. Tobacco juices irritate the mouth and can cause oral cancers.

4. It can clog the arteries and result in heart attacks.

5. Babies born to women who smoked hookah during pregnancy are known to have a lower birth weight and increased risks of respiratory diseases in their childhood.

6. The other diseases that can result from hookah smoking are stomach cancer, cancer of the esophagus (food pipe), reduced lung function and decreased fertility.

Read: One hour to 15 years: What not smoking means for your health and wallet

7. Secondhand smoke inhaled by the bystanders is equally harmful.

8. Some sweetened and flavored nontobacco products are also used for smoking. However although they do not contain tobacco but the smoke from both preparations contain carbon monoxide and other toxic agents known to increase the risks for smoking-related cancers, heart disease, and lung disease.

9. Hookah is commonly used in groups, with the same mouthpiece passed from person to person, which may not even be cleaned properly. It thus risks the transmission of infectious diseases like tuberculosis, aspergillus (a fungus that can cause serious lung infections), several viral infections, helicobacter infection (which can cause stomach ulcers) and even meningitis.

How you can quit

1. A right attitude is very important. The will power to quit is quintessential.

2. Balanced nutritious diet is essential to keep a steady supply of energy. Green vegetables like broccoli, spinach that have high magnesium content have a relaxing effect on the body. Dairy products like milk, eggs are high in tryptophan, a compound which helps in the production of serotonin, which in turn is known to induce a calming effect and can help fight depression. Fruits rich in vitamin C, like oranges, guavas, mangoes, pineapples, papayas and bananas also help in converting tryptophan into serotonin.

Read: Girls! In case you had no clue, every cigarette is rotting your insides

3. Regular physical exercise is very important. It stimulates the brain to produce certain endorphins, which give pleasure and a sense of well-being. It reduces stress; increases stamina; improves health, attitude and disposition, sleep; and increases self-esteem and sense of accomplishment. One can involve oneself in sports or household chores to remain active. Yoga and meditation are equally effective.

4. Join a support group with similar smoking concerns. It is usually helpful in providing useful tips to quit smoking hookah. Sharing personal experiences and setting examples is a good way. Online forums, tele-counseling are other alternatives.

5. Avoid triggers of smoking: Don’t avoid going to parties where hookah is served but avoid friends who smoke. Make an excuse to move out of the group standing around hookah. If you smoke hookah to relieve stress, you can also try a relaxing massage or maybe a hot shower. A short walk or developing a new hobby could help.

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