Is hookah safer than cigarettes? According to a new study in Pediatrics, published online Monday and featured in the August issue, the answer to this is no.
“Hookah use is not less harmful or addictive than cigarettes,” said Joseph Palamar, the lead author and assistant professor of population health at New York University. “There is a common misperception that the water in hookah filters out the bad things, like nicotine … but that simply isn’t true,” he said Monday morning.
In a new study on hookah usage, researchers found that hookah use is dramatically increasing among U.S. teens. The study, titled “Hookah Use Among U.S. High School Seniors,” found the annual prevalence of hookah use was 18 percent, based on a national survey of 5,540 high school seniors according to the Chicago Tribune.
Students who smoked cigarettes, and those who had used alcohol, marijuana or other illicit substances, were more likely to smoke hookah. An interesting finding was that students whose parents had higher levels of education, and those with higher incomes, were more likely to use hookah – unlike cigarette smoking, which is associated with lower socioeconomic status.
“Hookah use isn’t frowned upon as much, especially by the upper class because use doesn’t have the typical smoking stigma,” Palamar said. “It’s also trendy to use at hookah bars.”
One silver lining in the study is that hookah tends to be a once-in-a-while habit, unlike cigarettes. Still, researchers concluded it is imperative for public officials to fill in the gap sin public understanding about the harmful effects of hookah smoking.
“Users … need to be educated about the potential adverse effects,” said Palamar. In light of this latest findings, he added “please use sparingly.”
Is Hookah Safer Than Cigarettes? Study Says No