Scientists contradict claims hookah safer than cigarettes
The political aspect of hookah isnâ€™t the only thing raising eyebrows in Fort Collins.
While hookah is often argued as a safer form of smoking because the tobacco filters through water before it is smoked, recent studies have brought issue to that belief.
In November the Journal of Periodontology reported a study that said hookah smoking is just as powerful as cigarette smoking and can be even worse for usersâ€™ teeth than cigarettes.
Hookah smokers also trumped cigarette smokers and nonsmokers for the prevalence of tooth-related diseases, with 30 percent prevalence for water-pipe smokers and 24 percent and 8 percent for cigarette smokers and nonsmokers, respectively.
Hookahs, once popular for use with illegal drugs, still can be used for smoking many different substances, said Bear Gebhardt, a smoking cessation coach who works with the Health District of Northern Larimer County Smoking Cessation program.
Gebhardt believes many people are attracted to hookah smoking because they are under the impression that it is less harmful than cigarettes.
â€œI predict a quick fad â€” a rise and a fall â€” because they are not getting what they want from it,â€ he said. â€œAssume it will be more mild and less harmful, but alas itâ€™s more harmful.â€
The World Health Organization report released in early 2005 also stated second-hand smoke dangers from hookah are similar to cigarettes. The Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal concluded the amount of tobacco used in a typical hookah is equivalent to about 2Â½ cigarettes.
â€œâ€¦ the smoke produced by a waterpipe contains high levels of toxic compounds, including carbon monoxide, heavy metals and cancer-causing chemicals,â€ the report said.
And while Mark Williams, part owner of Algiers, does not claim that hookah smoking is good for oneâ€™s health, many users still feel it is not as harmful as cigarettes.
â€œBecause itâ€™s so mild it doesnâ€™t have a lot of the negative drawbacks of smoking cigarettes,â€ said Daryl Ham, 36, of Fort Collins.
Still, health officials worry that the sweet flavors available for hookah smoking, from fruit flavors to cappuccino, might tempt people who otherwise may not use tobacco to try hookah.
â€œThe gateway is to tobacco,â€ Gebhardt said. â€œThatâ€™s the real danger,â€