April 5, 2013
Tobacco Addiction: Water Pipes
An addiction is the compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance which is defined by physiological symptoms upon withdrawal. Addiction is more commonly referred to activities in a negative sense because the substance is often harmful to the user. One of the most addicting substances is nicotine, which is found within tobacco. The first thought that comes to mind when referencing to tobacco addiction is smoking cigarettes, but there are many other ways to consume tobacco such as: dip (chewing tobacco), cigars, and water pipes. Although the water pipe has been around for hundreds of years, it has only recently become popular. It has spread throughout the Middle East to Europe, all the way to North America, targeting pre-teens to young adults in college. There is an abundant amount of research done on the damaging effects of cigarettes, but as the water pipe craze is relatively new, there is still very little information on the health risks that this fresh social nicotine addiction may contain.
The water pipe has many different street names which are a lot more exotic and alluring: hookah, shisha, boory, goza, nargile, arghile, and hubble bubble/hubbly bubbly. Smoking hookah is a sensual and relaxing experience which is often done with a group of people. This bonding social activity gives smoking a different dimension of appeal compared to the normal singular act of smoking a cigarette, but may also contribute to the development of addiction. The water pipe is often an elegant looking device resembling a flower vase that sits on a table in between the party. The group will usually be sitting comfortably around the hookah which encourages long sessions that often include over fifty puffs of the hookah. The type of tobacco that is smoked through the water pipe is called maassel, which is fermented in molasses and fruit essences. There are many different flavors that appeal to all smokers. The smoke is often sweet or minty and cooled by the water filter which makes it easy for even nonsmokers to enjoy. First the tobacco is placed within a clay bowl covered by aluminum foil which heads the water pipe. Coals are placed on top of the head to heat the tobacco. The vase of the hookah is filled half way with liquid (usually water). The smoker inhales through a tube that is connected to the vase. The smoke is drawn through the stem of the pipe and filtered through the water before going through the tube that the smoker is inhaling on. The smoker is able to inhale clouds of smoke while simultaneously drawing air over the coals which further burns the tobacco. There are many cafes and bars that are dedicated to smoking hookah. These cafes have become increasingly popular among college students and are popping up all over the United States. Hookahs are also easily purchased through smoke shops or online. Smoking hookah has become a very popular social event because of its slow pace and relaxing feel. It allows people to partake in an activity which doesn’t require any concentration and allows them to socialize for an hour or so. It is more active than getting together for a coffee but not distracting enough to take away from a conversation. Yet the slow pace of the hookah experience is part of why it might be very dangerous. The total amount of exposure to nicotine through the prolonged smoking pattern is extremely unhealthy. Researchers from the American University of Beirut analyzed smoking patterns at a hookah lounge and reported that smokers inhaled ten times as often as a typical cigarette smoker would. Not only this, but each inhale contained about ten times as much smoke volume as a single cigarette puff. A single hookah session could have the smoke volume equivalent of one hundred cigarettes. To defend the health risks of hookah smoking, many argue that when inhaling, it is nott necessary to inhale all the way...