Still Blowing Smoke: How Hookah Has Become the New Cigarette

By Andrea Colombel on January 16, 2018

We all remember the anti-tobacco presentations from elementary school; the numerous slide shows of blackened lungs and deformed infants. But for most of us, the issue of tobacco consumption is more in relation to cigarettes. Sure, we may have been informed about other methods such as chewing tobacco, but cigarettes are the most remembered. Because of this, only 16% of American adults smoke cigarettes. Corporations that produce and sell tobacco products have realized this and have come up with other ways to make revenue: hookah and e-cigs.

They market hookah and e-cigarettes as a harmless alternative to traditional cigarettes and even seduce consumers with a variety of flavors including apple, mint, cherry, chocolate, coconut, licorice, cappuccino, and watermelon. These tactics seem to be working as hookah smoking is very popular among college students. But medical studies have proven that consuming tobacco through a hookah pipe is more dangerous than smoking a cigarette and that e-cigarettes still cause cancer.



Electronic cigarettes are battery-operated delivery systems that people use to inhale an aerosol, which contains nicotine. The four parts of an e-cigarette are the cartridge for holding liquid, the atomizer for heat, the battery, and the mouthpiece. When an individual uses an e-cig, they expose their lungs to an array of toxic chemicals, carcinogens, and metal nanoparticles. Additionally, a person’s bloodstream immediately absorbs the nicotine. The absorbed nicotine then triggers the release of pleasure-inducing dopamine, the hormone that causes addiction.

A pervasive fabrication being spread around is that e-cigarettes help people quit smoking. This is false because there is no scientific evidence that e-cigs reduce an individual’s desire for nicotine and the FDA has not approved them as a “quit-aid.”


The practice of hookah smoking began in ancient Persia and India. By the time the 19th century began, it spread throughout the Middle East and can be seen in Turkish artwork of upper-class women using it as a status symbol. Hookah reached the West when Middle Eastern and Indian immigrants arrived in European cities. Today, it is featured in cafés across the United States, Great Britain, France, Spain, and Russia.

The parts of the hookah pipe are the head, head gasket, tray, stem, release valve, vase gasket, vase, down stem, hose, hose port, hose port opening, and hose gasket. Each component is displayed in the diagram above.


The American Lung Association considers hookah a public health threat, and the maladies that arise from hookah smoking are endless. Charcoal used to heat the tobacco inside the pipe produce high levels of carbon monoxide and metals. Toxic agents found in hookah smoke are known to decrease fertility and induce cancers of the lungs, mouth, bladder, stomach, and esophagus. The way in which hookah is consumed results in smokers absorbing more toxic materials than cigarette smokers: an hour of hookah smoking involves 200 puffs (90,000 milliliters), while an hour of cigarette smoking involves 20 puffs (500-600 milliliters).


Greed is an insatiable beast that has no regard for human health or social well-being. The sale of hookah and electronic cigarettes is just another one of their ploys to stay relevant in American society. The greed of the tobacco companies is an old one that most of us are aware of. But for some reason, we have chosen to become indifferent to it for the sake of being cool. The alarming health concerns should be enough to make any habitual hookah smoker at least want to quit, no matter the social trend surrounding it.

Hi, my name is Andrea Colombel but I go by my nickname Andie. I was born in Los Angeles but grew up in Redlands, CA. I graduated from Redlands East Valley High School in 2013 and started attending Crafton Hills College and San Bernardino Valley College the following school year. This year I was accepted into Cal State San Bernardino's criminal justice program and I will be attending in the fall. My goal is to receive my Juris Doctor from Columbia Law School and my dream is to be a criminal prosecutor in a metropolitan area like New York City or Washington D.C.

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