Hookah Smoking Is Risk Factor for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Hookah Smoking 

Owner of cafe for hookah smoking

40 year old owner of cafe in United Kingdom with hookah pipe

Background: Hookah smoking involves inhaling flavored tobacco from a Turkish water pipe. It is also called “hubbly-bubbly” or “shisha” and is becoming fashionable among young people, especially in cities. The World Health Organization has warned that a one-hour session of hookah smoking can be as harmful as smoing 100
Cigarette smoking versus hookah smoking

Smokers typically take in 12 puffs on a cigarette compared to up to 200 for hookah pipes

cigarettes. This is because a cigarette smoker typically takes between 8 to 12 puffs. In contrast, during a typical hour long hookah session, smokers may take up to 200 drags. Hookah tobacco tastes nicer than cigarettes because of the flavor, but contains all of the same toxins known to cause lung cancer, heart disease, and COPD. Study: In the May 23, 2017, issue of the journal Chronic Respiratory Disease, Dr. Bahtouee and colleagues from the Bushehr University of Medical Sciences in Iran reported on the frequency of COPD in hookah smokers. These researchers performed breathing tests in 245 subjects who were at least 35 years of age who were taking hookah for at least 15 years and in 245 subjects who did not smoke hookah. Results:  Ten percent of the chronic hookah smokers had COPD. The rate was higher in those with older age, 3 or more hookahs each day, number of years of hookah smoking, daily cough of mucus and shortness of breath for two or more years. Conclusions: Hookah smoking significantly increases the risk of COPD. My Comments: Smoking flavored tobacco from a water pipe occurs throughout the world. A review shows that current hookah smoking among university students is 6% in the Persian Gulf region, 8% in the United Kingdom, and 10% in the United States.  States with highest prevalence were the District of Columbia (17%), Nevada (16%), and California (16%). Current hookah smoking among high school students in the US is 5.4%. It is important to educate everyone that hookah smoking causes COPD as well as other diseases associated with cigarette smoking.

Donald A. Mahler, M.D. is Emeritus Professor of Medicine at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth in Hanover, New Hampshire. He works as a pulmonary physician at Valley Regional Hospital in Claremont, NH, where he is Director of Respiratory Services.