Butte County health officials warn that smoking tobacco from a hookah pipe is just as bad for your health as smoking cigarettes and could be more addicting.

Butte County health officials warn that smoking tobacco from a hookah pipe is just as bad for your health as smoking cigarettes and could be more addicting.

Hookahs are pipes for smoking tobacco made of glass or metal, usually highly decorated and shaped somewhat like a long bottle or small tank, which holds water at the bottom. Long, flexible tubes that are connected near the base of the pipe are used to inhale the tobacco smoke. The tobacco is heated by hot charcoal. Hookahs are generally marketed towards the college-age crowd using advertising, which depicts persons of this age group using the hookahs in photos along with slogans with exotic appeal aimed at alluring young people.

Smoking tobacco from a hookah varies, but can last for up to an hour. A long session can be the equivalent to smoking many cigarettes in a row. Tobacco for hookahs contains the same dangerous chemicals and nicotine as in tobacco used to make cigarettes. The prolonged exposure to the smoke can lead to high levels of nicotine in the body and greater exposure to any other chemical in the smoke, including those known to cause cancer. More nicotine equals a greater chance of addiction to it. The high amount of carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas given off by the charcoal, can make some hookah users dizzy and nauseated.

“Please don’t let yourself or someone you care about be misled into believing that hookahs are less dangerous than smoking cigarettes. There’s nothing exotic about getting sick from smoking tobacco from hookahs and the risk of getting cancer,” says Raúl Raygoza from the Butte County Public Health Department.

Smoking tobacco from hookahs or any other device is just as addicting and is just as bad for your health.