Science and Health

Hookah On Rise With Teens, More Dangerous Than Cigarettes?

A recent study shows younger people are using more hookah, but experts say it's actually not a healthier alternative.

Hookah On Rise With Teens, More Dangerous Than Cigarettes?
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Cigarette use among youths might be declining, but another kind of unhealthy smoke is blowing in. (Via Getty Images)

New research shows a 21 percent increase among high school seniors over the past year in the use of hookah, a water pipe used to smoke flavored tobacco. (Via Getty Images)

People might think hookah is a healthier option, but health experts say hookah can pose the same, if not more, dangers to your health as cigarettes.

USA Today reports one common misconception is that there are no toxins because the tobacco isn't actually burned, it's heated and then filtered through water. But that's just not the case.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, toxins are still present in hookah smoke. And the toxic smoke is said to actually be more harmful since hookah users inhale about 90,000 milliliters of it in a single session compared to just 500 milliliters from a cigarette.

One hookah user tells the New York Daily News the appeal of smoking it as a teen was the social aspect. "Hookah allowed us to have a space for something to do — and unlike drinking or smoking weed, we weren't going to get in trouble for it."

Another cigarette alternative, e-cigarettes, have also come under fire recently for questionable health claims. (Via blu Cigs)

Now — a similar battery-operated device, called the hookah pen or e-hookah, consisting of flavored vapor that the user inhales is also growing in popularity. (Via YouTube / Shishaa)

Because e-cigarettes and other similar devices have not been fully researched and have yet to be regulated by the FDA, their health affects are not fully understood.

​But according to Medical News Today, one of this new study's authors says hookah pens might be pushing people toward using an actual hookah by "normalizing" smoking as an acceptable thing to do.

And since hookah users inhale more nicotine than they would with a cigarette, hookah can be more addictive and pose the same or more health risks to the younger audience it attracts. (Via CNN)

The study surveyed more than 5,000 high school seniors between 2010 and 2012. It also found adolescents who live in a big city, have educated parents, and earn a higher income were more likely to use hookah.