Hookah: What is it?

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Article written by Meghan Petrie

Shisha or Hookah is a mixture of tobacco and treacle, honey or sugar, and distilled water with fruit flavors. It first became popular in the form of a coconut shell in India and is one of the oldest traditions in the Middle East, Turkey, India, Asia and Africa.

Hookah comes in many flavors. The flavor of Hookah is more attractive than the taste of a cigar or cigarette. Young adults often prefer Hookah over cigars or cigarettes because there are a wide range of flavors to choose from and, like coffee, you can mix these flavors together.

Young people use Hookah, but so do the elderly. One might be surprised as to how many different age groups smoke Hookah. The ages range from as young as preteens to age eighty. There are many elderly people, especially in other countries, that have been smoking Hookah for most of their lives.

Despite policies prohibiting sales to minors, they still have access.  Many stores that sell Hookah pipes, coals, and the tobacco flavors have a carding policy in place. However, this does not stop older adults from purchasing the pipe and everything that goes with it for minors under the age of 18. Not only can these pipes be used for smoking Hookah, but they can also be used for smoking other substances that are illegal. A branch of a store called Discontent was shut down in Moorhead due to people purchasing Hookah equipment and using it to smoke illegal substances.

The effects of one Hookah session are worse than smoking a cigarette. While smoking cigarettes increase one’s risk of lung cancer as well as other health concerns, one 45-60 minute Hookah session is the equivalent to inhaling the smoke from 100 cigarettes!

Hookah “lounges” cluster in college towns. Hookah is typically smoked in a social setting, and most lounges are run like a coffee shop or a little cafe. People who come in sit down and order their choice of hookah flavor from a menu, and the hookah pipe is prepared and served to the people who smoke hookah on site. A typical session lasts between 30-90 minutes in length. Hookah lounges have become very popular among college age men and women due to it being one of the largest growing social activities.

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Posted in Other Drug Use, Tobacco.