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We’ve all seen the billboards off of the freeway that tell people that hookah smoking is actually 10, or 15, or even 100 times worse than cigarette smoking. Is this really true, however? The answer is complicated, although those billboards definitely exaggerate to some degree. Regardless, though, it’s very clear that hookah smoking is still very unhealthy, and can pose a great many health risks, as well as contribute to a nicotine addiction that can be hard to kick. Here’s some information about how hookahs are related to cigarettes, and why they may be more dangerous, in practice…

Not inherently more dangerous

First off, it’s important to note that hookah smoke is not inherently more dangerous than cigarette smoke. Both of them contain nicotine, the dangerous substance that makes cigarettes addictive, as well as normal tobacco. Actually, the inverse is more true. There tends to be a lot more chemicals in cigarette smoke than there is in hookah smoke, and it is these chemicals that make cigarettes more dangerous than just smoking straight tobacco (which is still quite unhealthy). However, there is still a host of different factors that go into what exactly makes hookah smoking dangerous, and they aren’t necessarily as simple as the substance itself.

Hookah smokers tend to smoke for longer, and in social company

What makes hookah smoking particularly dangerous isn’t type of smoking, itself, it has to do with how most people participate in hookah smoking. You see, most hookah smokers tend to smoke hookah as a social activity, in the company of others. There are entire bars that exist for the purpose of being a space for people to smoke hookahs together. (They are aptly called ‘hookah bars’). Due to this social behavior, people tend to smoke hookah for a lot longer than a cigarette smoker would have a smoke break. On top of that, they are taking in a tremendous amount of second-hand smoke, due to all of the people smoking around them.

Hookah increases the risk of chronic bronchitis and respiratory disease

While hookah smoke isn’t usually filled with as many chemicals as cigarette smoke, there is still a very real threat that comes with smoking hookah. Hookah smoking has been shown to increase the risk of chronic bronchitis, as well as various respiratory diseases. On top of this, most hookah smokers also tend to smoke cigarettes, as well, and will suffer the same health risks as other cigarette smokers, as well as their hookah smoking.