Hookah smoking is dangerous whether or not the shisha contains tobacco. Hookah smokers, and those around them, inhale toxic chemicals, as well as burned charcoal. There is no healthy way to smoke hookah.
Toxic gases from hookah smoking come from two separate sources: the charcoal that is burned to heat the shisha and the shisha itself. These gases are similar to firsthand and secondhand cigarette smoke. There is no type of shisha that is a healthy alternative to cigarettes. Water does not filter out unhealthy chemicals and tobacco-containing shisha, like cigarettes, is addictive.
|Chemical||Charcoal||Non-Tobacco Shisha||Tobacco Shisha|
|Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons||✔||✔||✔|
|Fine particulate matter||✔||✔||✔|
|NNAL (a tobacco-specific nitrosamine)||✔|
In NYC, hookah smoking is three times more likely among young people ages 18 to 20 than among adults 21 and older. Youth in NYC, and elsewhere, commonly underestimate the health risks of smoking hookah — that may contain tobacco — and are often unaware that they are inhaling harmful smoke when they visit hookah bars. The increase in younger New Yorkers that smoke hookah is particularly troubling because some studies suggest youth who smoke hookah may be more likely to try cigarettes.