What Is A Hookah & Why You Shouldn’t Be Smoking Anything At All

Every citizen who stops smoking, or loses a few pounds, or starts managing his chronic disease with real diligence, is caulking a crack for the benefit of us all.
~ Mitch Daniels

What is a hookah? That’s a great question which we’ll explore today and find out. But first of all. If you’re here because you know that smoking is bad for you and you want to quit read my post how to quit smoking cigarettes quickly. And the same applies if you’re smoking cigars or any other type of herb or plant.

Okay, I’ll preach some more later. But first of all here is what a hookah is. A hookah is a is a single or multi-stemmed instrument used for smoking tobacco and other products. Usually in a hookah, the smoke is travels through a water basin which cools it. Some say that the water basin also purifies the smoke but I’m not buying that part of it. Here is a pic of a hookah.

Naturally, when you inhale smoke which by its very nature is hot it hurts. Inhaling it after it has been cooled through water is much nicer and easier. However, that does not make it any less unhealthy.

The hookah pipe is also known by many other names and here are a few of the most common ones. Hubbly bubbly in South Africa, waterpipe, narghile, Qalyan and shisha although shisha is usually the name used to refer to the tobacco that is smoked in a hookah.

The word hookah actually comes from the Indian huqqa. And as mentioned above the tobacco is usually called shisha but also mu’assel which is a syrupy tobacco mixed with glycerin and molasses.

Hookah smoking is becoming very popular in the west for some reason that I can’t seem to understand, but maybe because the youth think it is cool and less dangerous than tobacco smoking. I personally don’t see the appeal. Inhaling smoke into your lungs is not a useful or helpful thing to do to your body.

The way that the hookah works is that the smoke from the bowl is sucked down (when you suck on the hose or pipe) into the water bowl and then bubble up where it comes to you through the hose all nice and cool and flavoured. It is flavoured if you use flavoured tobacco or other leaves as well as if you use juice or crushed mint leaves and other things in the water bowl.

I smoked cigarettes for 5 years and I started doing it because I thought it was cool. It isn’t and so I stopped.

In fairness however, many hookah smokers are using non-tobacco to smoke in the hookah. Examples of this are tea leaves, sugar cane, sugar beets and other herbs. So an argument could be made that you aren’t inhaling the nicotine and other chemicals that come from the tobacco plant, but you are still inhaling smoke and putting those tar like deposits in your lungs. If you do this long enough I’m certain you will impair your lung function and likely increase your chance of lung cancer.

Smoking is not healthy and in fact dangerous and harmful. The Mayo Clinic has determined that smoking tobacco with a hookah is just as dangerous as smoking cigarettes. Just say not to smoking anything. Our mouths are there to take solids and liquids and our nose is there to inhale fresh, healthy air. End of story.


  1. Jason,

    I’ll agree that smoking tobacco is a harmful thing. There have been enough peer-reviewed studies for that. You go on, however, to assert that smoking anything through a hookah–even tea-leaves–is harmful. But you have provided no evidence for it.

    For that example, you’ve only provided your opinion. I can understand warning people against the dangers of smoke. But for the future I’d like to see impartial evidence to back it up.

  2. Thanks for the comment Jeff,

    Yes, smoking tea leaves being harmful is my opinion. I could not find evidence to suggest it is harmless or harmful. But look at it this way. Tobacco is a leaf from a plant, so are tea leaves. I don’t see why they wouldn’t be harmful.

    Even though I am not against the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, smoking it is nevertheless harmful despite marijuana appearing to have limited linkage to lung cancer.

    Smoke is not meant to be inhaled on a frequent basis. The lungs can clear modest amounts of smog and smoke particulates but inhaling any type of smoke over prolonged periods is not a good idea.

    Btw, where is your evidence to the contrary. You are just offering an opinion yourself?

  3. Asking for evidence is not an opinion. In my message I offered no contrary information to yours. Because that was not my point. I only asked that in the future you provide something to back your claims. It is a habit within our society to offer opinion as fact. Just take a look at any news organization.

    We should all be striving for a scientific approach to how we formulate opinions. Opinion, without evidence, is blind.

  4. Science is not always the be all and end all either.
    In fact there is often science to support both sides
    of an argument depending on who’s paying the piper.

    I place weight in underrated and underused common
    sense as well.

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