Hookah vs. Cigarettes: How Are They Different?
Hookah and cigarettes differ in how they're used and how much nicotine and smoke they deliver to the user. When someone smokes a cigarette, they light one end, place the opposite end in their mouth and take a puff. When someone smokes hookah, the tobacco is heated with the use of a water pipe, and the smoke passes through water and travels up a tube or pipe into a person's mouth.
Hookah tobacco is often flavored, which may make the habit seem innocent compared with smoking cigarettes. Since the smoke can taste like strawberries or vanilla, people may think that they are getting less of the "bad stuff," such as nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide. The CDC explains that water pipes deliver nicotine, the same addictive drug found in cigarettes, and that the smoke from water pipes is at least as toxic as cigarette smoke. What's more, hookah users might actually take in more toxic substances than cigarette users because of how hookah pipes are used.
Those who partake in hookah smoking may be exposed to more harmful substances than cigarette smokers because smoking hookah takes longer. The American Dental Association (ADA) points out that the average hookah smoking session lasts for nearly an hour and a half. During a session, a person might take as many as 200 puffs of smoke. Meanwhile, it takes the average cigarette smoker about five minutes to finish a cigarette, during which time they're likely to take around 40 to 75 puffs. In addition to taking more puffs, hookah users may inhale more smoke. During a typical hookah session, the CDC calculates that a person might inhale up to 90,000 milliliters of smoke, compared with up to 600 milliliters when smoking a single cigarette.