LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Hookah use has risen in popularity among young people, who are drawn to tobacco sold in colorful packaging and in fruit and candy flavors. For years, many people have been convinced that smoking tobacco in a hookah is less harmful than cigarettes because the tobacco is filtered through water. A local researcher at the University of Louisville says that’s not the case.
The American Heart Association says hookah smoking may be harmful to your heart, affecting heart rate and blood pressure and with chronic use is linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
Aruni Bhatnagar, a professor of medicine at the University of Louisville, says that many young people mistakenly believe that smoking tobacco from a hookah is less harmful than cigarette smoking because the tobacco is filtered through water, but researchers says there is no scientific evidence that supports that claim.
Hookah smoke has many of the same toxic chemicals as cigarettes and in some cases, a higher amount of them. The American Heart Association's journal Circulation, says that hookah smokers, during sessions that typically last 30 minutes, tend to inhale liters of smoke filled with large quantities of hazardous matter at higher levels than cigarettes.
The American Heart Association says 4.8% of US high school students surveyed smoked hookah in 2016.
That’s up from 4.1% in 2011.