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Teens Trade Cigarettes for Hookahs

Some folks call it a hookah, but it’s also known as a water pipe, shisha, narghile or hubble bubble. One thing’s for sure: whatever you call it, it’s gaining in popularity — especially among teens and young adults.

A new survey, published yesterday in the journal Pediatrics, confirmed that as many as 23 percent of young people in North America have used a hookah.  That’s nearly 1 in 4 young adults.

Once only available at Middle Eastern cafes, hookahs are popping up all over, including small towns and Internet cafes, according to MSNBC.com.

And now that tobacco use is frowned on, teens get the false impression that hookahs are not only safe, but sorta cool.

“Are we creating a new epidemic in the face of declining cigarette use?” asked Jennifer O’Loughlin of the University of Montreal and senior researcher of the Pediatrics study.

O’Loughlin and her colleagues surveyed 871 young adults , aged 18 to 24, who anonymously reported on their substance abuse habits. Of these, 201 had used a hookah in the previous year.

Even though hookah use has been linked to lung cancer, heart disease and pregnancy complications, for some reason, people still think they’re safe.

In fact, hookah smokers may actually inhale more tobacco smoke than cigarette smokers (as much as 100 cigarettes) because of the large amount of smoke they inhale in one “session,” according to The Mayo Clinic.

Plus, since hookah pipes at bars and cafes may not be cleaned properly, they’ve got cooties. Seriously, you could catch an infectious disease.

Some states are cracking down on hookah use. As of May 1, Michigan has banned the stuff. In other cases, hookah bars popped up as a way to sidestep state’s ban on cigarette smoking at bars and restaurants.

And don’t be fooled by the fruit flavored tobacco. It doesn’t count towards your daily recommended servings of fruit.

Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/photomemoriesflopes/ / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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