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Hookah smoking posts on social media promote the habit, here’s how

The hashtag hookah posts on your social media feed may be influencing you to view the habit positively, despite the serious health risks associated with it, says a new study.

fitness Updated: Jun 30, 2018 10:44 IST
Soma Das
Soma Das
Hindustan Times
Hookah smoking,Health,Smoking
Smoking hookahs is linked to cancer, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory disease. (Shutterstock)

While scrolling through social media, you may have come across posts with hashtags, such as #hookah or #sheesha. Such posts serve to portray hookah use in an overwhelmingly positive manner, despite its serious health risks, suggests a new study.

What the study says

A team of researchers from Florida International University, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Miami, the Syrian Centre for Tobacco Studies, and the University of Pittsburgh selected 279 posts from 11,517 posts tagged hookah or sheesha within a four-day period. The findings, published in the journal Health Education and Behavior, suggest that such portrayal and promotion of hookah smoking can normalise its use and pose public health challenges.

This comes at a time when there is increasing evidence of a link between smoking hookah and nicotine dependence as well as smoking-related illnesses, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory disease.

The study found that 99.6% posts indicated positive sentiments towards hookah use, and only one post (0.4%) mentioned its negative health effects. The researchers also found that 10% of all posts used the hashtag #HookahAddiction, signalling that nicotine addiction is not perceived as a health risk that would discourage potential users but instead is referred to ironically or as a “badge of honour”.

Hookah smoke also contains the same cancer-causing particulates found in second-hand smoke and 100 times the amount of lead as in regular cigarettes. (Shutterstock)

Common myths about hookah smoking

Here are some of the other common myths about hookah smoking, as explained by Snehal Singh, senior lifestyle and wellness management consultant at Healthians, and Sargam Dhawan, director, Planet Herbs Lifesciences list major myths about the hookah:

* Myth: Hookah is not as dangerous as cigarette smoking.

While hookah smoke is water-cooled and filtered, its smoke contains significant quantities of the same chemicals that make cigarette smoke harmful. It also produces toxic gases like carbon monoxide and carcinogenic chemicals which can increase the risk of cancer and heart problems. Hookah smoke also contains the same cancer-causing particulates found in second-hand smoke and 100 times the amount of lead as in regular cigarettes.

* Myth: Hookah is not addictive as a cigarette.

Hookah smoking can lead to inhalation of tobacco, which contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive substance and smoking hookah can be as addictive as smoking cigarettes.

* Myth: Smoking hookah does not affect others.

Hookah smoking releases second-hand smoke, which can affect others. It releases fine particles in the air, which are harmful for those sitting around. Even in case of non-tobacco hookahs, the toxic content in the smoke is the same as in tobacco products.

(With inputs from IANS)

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First Published: Jun 30, 2018 10:42 IST