Workout Wednesday: The Shocking Truth About Smoking Hookah

by Campus Rec

How much do you know about hookah? Answer the question below to test your knowledge!

Question: Is smoking hookah safer than smoking cigarettes?

A) Hookah is much safer. There’s no nicotine… right?
B) Hookah and cigarettes are equally as harmful.
C) More dangerous- a hookah session equals twice as much smoke as 1 cigarette.
D) Much more dangerous – a hookah session equals 100 times as much smoke as 1 cigarette

Answer: D. Hookah smoke contains nicotine, carbon monoxide, and is actually more dangerous than cigarette smoking.

hookahCelebrities like Rihanna have helped to popularize hookah smoking. 1 hookah session = 100 cigarettes

Many college students are turning to hookah for a fun, new experience. The social aspect and flavorful taste makes smoking hookah the perfect Friday night activity. Smoking hookah is also seen as more socially acceptable than smoking cigarettes. In fact, a 2011 study found that 18.5% of college students had used a hookah in the past year. And many hookah smokers believe that smoking a hookah has fewer negative health effects than cigarettes. These notions couldn’t be farther from the truth. Find out why hookah smoking could be causing the next major public health crisis.

New research has revealed the dramatic and shocking dangers of smoking hookah. Hookah smoke contains the same deadly toxins as cigarette smoke, which have been linked to lung cancer, respiratory illness, low birth weight, and periodontal disease. In fact, smoking hookah exposes the user to more smoke than a cigarette does. This is because hookah sessions last longer than smoking a cigarette, and the method of inhalation is different. When smoking hookah, the user inhales deeper and more frequently. These differences mean that hookah smokers are actually absorbing higher amounts of toxins.

The harmful effects of hookah go beyond the dangers of cigarettes. Smoking hookah may also be a cause for cancer. This is because the charcoal used to incinerate the tobacco produce smoke that contains high levels of carbon monoxide, metals, and cancer causing chemicals. Exposing yourself to these chemicals is playing Russian roulette with your health.

The dangers are real, but the awareness is limited. Currently, there are no public health campaigns against hookah smoking, like there are for cigarettes. Take action and educate yourself and your peers. Check out the information below to arm yourself with the facts about smoking hookah:

Workout Wednesday blog posts are written by UNC Campus Recreation staff members. Each Wednesday we’ll be swapping blog posts with the Tarheel Tone Up blog so that readers can view more diverse post topics that will benefit their health and wellness. Workout Wednesday blog posts can be found both here and on

image courtesy of

Winners Never Quit? I Beg to Differ.

I started a recycling program at my old job.  I go around my house turning off lights behind my roommate.  I teach people how to become healthy through diet, exercise, and stress reduction.  I reapply sunscreen and wear stupid hats to the pool to protect my sensitive skin from sunburn and skin cancer.  And then I wash down all of my philanthropy and healthy living with a good old Camel Light.

I have distinct memories of how smoking became a part of my life.  I remember when I was 17 years old and I lit cigarettes for my friend Maggie when she was driving us somewhere (after all, that was the age when we still kept both hands on the wheel!)  I remember saying that I would buy a pack of cigarettes legally on my 18th birthday and then I would quit.  I also remember my first night of college.  My new roommate Abby wasn’t finished getting ready for our tour of campus (and she didn’t know that I smoked) so I told her that I was going to go wait outside.  I started smoking my cigarette, but Abby came outside before I finished.  I told her that I didn’t really smoke and that was the LAST cigarette I was ever going to have.  I’m approaching my 29th birthday and I just quit smoking last month. Continue reading