Smoking hookah (hookah or hubbly bubbly) is very popular, particularly among young people. And despite what many people believe, it is highly addictive. In fact, a drug commonly prescribed to help people quit smoking cigarettes doesn’t seem to work for hookah smokers, our latest study shows.
Given that hookah is often smoked with friends and family, its addiction may be more than just physical. This strong social element to the addiction may be the reason the smoking cessation drug, varenicline, which is effective for cigarette smokers, doesn’t have the same effect on daily hookah smokers.
Traditionally smoked by older men in the Middle East and South Asia, hookah has now gained popularity around the globe. Hookah cafes and bars have opened in most cities in Europe and the US in recent years. Flavoured brands, such as fruit hookah, have become particularly popular with young people who are attracted to hookah’s romantic allure – it is seen as fashionable and exotic.
ADDICTIVE AND HARMFUL
In a hookah (also known as a waterpipe or hookah), tobacco is burned using charcoal. The smoke passes through a water-filled bowl and leaves through a hose. By inhaling at one end of the hose, a vacuum is produced that makes smoke pass through the water to the smoker.
There are two common misconceptions about hookah smoking. The first is that it is less harmful than cigarettes as the smoke is believed to be “cleansed” while passing through water. The second is that it is less addictive than cigarettes.