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Hookah smoke also dangerous

When I start to like something, I become pretty much infatuated with it.

When I hear a band’s music I like, I try and acquire it all as hastily as possible. When I first became interested in playing guitar, I had to have one as soon as possible and learn as fast as possible. It’s just my personality.

My most recent endeavor has been smoking with a hookah.

A hookah is a water pipe with a hose that is used to smoke a flavored shisha tobacco/molasses/fruit combination. This combination sits in a bowl at the top of it and is heated up – not burned – by a charcoal. And yes, it is legal.

Sure, I’d done it plenty of times before, the first time about five years back while going to school in Arizona, and then a session at my friend’s house in Bloomington, Ill., last year was pretty good. But I’d never thought about it past that.

The time that got me hooked was at a friend’s house recently, when I decided, ‘Hey, I’d like to do this whenever I please.’

And with alluring shisha flavor names like chocolate mint and blue mist, it’s hard not to want to try.

So, I went ahead and researched hookah, shisha tobacco and, of course, the health concerns that come with it. I spoke to my friend from Bloomington, who is heavily into hookah culture. He gave me tips on what to look for and what would best suit my minor measures.

But I’m not sure I properly looked up the health concerns until just the other day. I ignorantly thought shisha had fewer health risks when compared to cigarettes. Apparently smoking tobacco, even shisha tobacco, is still bad for you.

I know. I was shocked, too.

But since smoking hookah is such a college craze, as most college towns have hookah bars, I think people should think twice before lighting the charcoals and packing the bowls.

According to Sheila Baker, medical director at Health Service (Eastern Illinois), shisha’s effects are just the same as smoking a cigarette and since hookah hoses are typically passed around among a group of people, it’s more unsanitary, too.

‘You’re sharing more than just smoke at that point,’ Baker said.

Ryan Messinger, health education coordinator at the Health Education Resource Center (Eastern Illinois), agreed with these health hazards. He said the same chemicals from tobacco are found in shisha.

‘In my opinion, I believe it would be just as dangerous as normal cigarette smoke,’ Messinger said. ‘Smoke is still not any more safe going through the water.’

And, as might be obvious by now, the same long-term health defects go along with smoking shisha. Messinger said problems such as headaches, high blood pressure and cancer can result from smoking hookah.

According to a study done by the World Health Organization and reported in a 2007 USA Today article, these dangers are real.

‘The [WHO] said a person can inhale more than 100 times more smoke in a hookah session than in a single cigarette,’ the article said. ‘By delivering nicotine, the water pipe can cause addiction.’

So after properly researching my new fascination, I’ll have to find better ways to relax. Infatuation sometimes leads to love, but sometimes expectations aren’t met without proper attention to those first details. So next time I’m infatuated with something, I’ll double-check my research.

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