Hookah Puff Seems Fancy But Burns More

Hookah smoke that one inhales can contain 36 times more tar than cigarette smoke, 15 times the carbon monoxide and 70 per cent more nicotine than one cigarette.

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Police raid in Bhubaneswar Hookah Bar

A hookah comes with a base meant to be half-filled with water, accompanied by pipe and coal; the three together create the most dangerous smoke for mankind. Usually, combining it with regular flavoured tobacco like paan, chocolate, green apple, candy and many more adds an aroma which tempts people. Today, people smoke a shisha (another name for hookah) in groups, at home and in cafes or lounges. Shisha is a word that can also be referred to the flavoured tobacco.

Smoking hookah is not a new tradition and the misconception about it being a less harmful way of smoking is also not new. The youngsters out there think that consumption of hookah is not harmful to health but the fact remains that hookah contains nicotine and tobacco, which are hazardous to human health.

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For these health reasons, hookah that contains nicotine and tobacco is banned in the state of Odisha and police have conducted several raids over different hookah parlours and restaurants in the capital city Bhubaneswar. This ban attempt sadly remains unstoppable, especially in the college areas as it is easily available and equally accessible by the students. One thing that these hookah parlours do is when it is not banned, they come up with a menu for different bases and flavours of hookah and even add the hookah in bills. However, when it is banned and police conduct raids, then they just don’t give any menu or add it in the bill; instead, they add an amount like 399 saying hookah so and so that it is not in any records.

Why is hookah smoking a matter of concern?

Health warning

Dr A.K. Sinha speaks about the ill effects of hookah smoking in humans, ‘Smoking in any form is injurious to health and that of hookah is much more hazardous because it directly goes into your lungs in a large amount. Hookah smoking in rural areas is done with Cannabis and in urban spaces, Tobacco and nicotine are used in flavours; and all of these things lead to Lung Cancer, Mouth Cancer, Gum Cancer, Hypertension, Stroke, Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD). Hookah smoking should not be done if one is concerned about their health because it is addictive and, moreover, it affects the lungs and mouth directly, hence causing breathing problems. It is a matter of concern for the youths that they are playing with their health without even having a sense of risk that they are getting themselves into’.

Nikki Sharma, a former hookah consumer shares her experience with hookah and what she has to say will surprise you.

‘I used to smoke hookah like thrice a week considering the thought that it does not cause any harm, but after a period of time I realized that whenever I used to do a hookah session, I got head rush. I thought of considering a doctor for this as I thought that it was something else because for me hookah was innocent, my doctor asked me what do you smoke, I said I smoke hookah. He said that it is the root of all my problems and explained to me about how it is dangerous than smoking. I decided to quit it and had this craving for smoking when I was away from hookah for like 2 months. That is when I realized that it actually contains nicotine and that I was an unaware addict’.

The state has imposed a ban and police conduct periodical raids, but does this has an effect … does it helps? Or does it make restaurants in Bhubaneswar to not serve hookah? The answer is obvious and clear that no! It has not been effective. Restaurants still serve hookah and people still consume it.

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Restaurants put up warning signs of NO SMOKING and then does exactly the opposite by serving hookah.

Out of every 10 restaurants in Bhubaneswar, 5 of them serves hookah and when asked to a restaurant owner (who wanted his identity to be anonymous) about serving hookah to youngsters, he said, ‘As a parent I will never want my child to smoke or consume hookah but I am a businessman, and when I opened a restaurant near a college area 10 years back, I thought that food is the only thing that attracts youngsters to fancy restaurants but I was wrong. I saw an emerging trend but never wanted to adopt it. Sadly, I was at a loss because people prefer restaurants that serve hookah and food together, I don’t like serving hookah but it is business after all’.

In a counter-argument, another restaurant owner (who wanted his identity to be anonymous), who does not serve hookah was asked about how his restaurant is operating without hookah, says, ‘see, there is no such thing as if you have hookah, then only people will come because there are people of different age groups and also who are concerned about their health. But one thing I have been noticing since the introduction of hookah in nearby places is youngsters ask me that why you don’t have hookah, some groups come and sit at the restaurant and ask for hookah menu and when denied that we do not serve, they leave the restaurant’.

Also, on being asked about the pattern of hookah smoking among youngsters, the manager of a restaurant, who wanted his identity to be anonymous, said that ‘people here consume hookah for several hours and there are some customers who are our regular hookah customers; they smoke hookah on a daily basis for a minimum of 2 hours. Also, the flavours of hookah mention that smoking causes throat cancer and that it has got nicotine in it. Some groups consume hookah as they are addicts, some people are trying it for the first time and some boys smoke hookah to impress girls sitting in the restaurant’.