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Video | Is Hookah Just As Harmful as Smoking Cigarettes? An Expert Decodes

Telangana and Karnataka have imposed a statewide ban on hookah. How harmful is it really?

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Video Editor: Anoushka Rajesh

On 12 February, Tuesday, the Telangana Legislative Assembly unanimously passed a bill banning hookah parlours in the state.

This news comes just days after the Karnataka Health Department imposed a blanket ban on the sale, distribution, and consumption of hookah products in the state, effective immediately.

Is smoking hookah just as bad as smoking cigarettes? How does it affect your health?

Dr Ashish Kumar Prakash, Consultant, Respiratory & Sleep Medicine, Medanta Gurugam, breaks down everything you need to know.

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Cigarettes Vs Hookah: Is One Worse Than the Other?

"Smoking hookah is just as bad as smoking cigarettes," says Dr Ashish Kumar Prakash, Consultant, Respiratory & Sleep Medicine, Medanta Gurugam.

He says smoking hookahs can increase your risk of developing Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer, oral cancer and bladder cancer just as smoking cigarettes does.

"Zahar (poison) is zahar (poison). Hookah is a type of smoking. So, in this there is a high level of carbon monoxide, metals and cancer causing chemicals are there."
Dr Ashish Kumar Prakash, Consultant, Respiratory & Sleep Medicine, Medanta Gurugam

Moreover, he adds,"Because in hookahs the smoke comes through a vapour, people think that some of the carcinogens or some of the harmful substances may be eliminated. But overall, you are taking carcinogens through hookah also."

How Does it Impact Your Health?

"In my clinical practice what I have seen is that a hookah or a cigarette smoker comes to us as COPD patients. If the patient is a chronic smoker, we also test for cancer," says Dr Prakash.

In younger patients who have just started smoking or only do it occassionally, he says, they see other acute symptoms.

"At the age of 20 or 30, they are not affected so badly. They usually come in with acute choking, acute cough, acute breathlessness. That is basically the reactive airway dysfunctional syndrome."
Dr Ashish Kumar Prakash, Consultant, Respiratory & Sleep Medicine, Medanta Gurugam

Even Tobacco-less and Nicotine-Free Hookahs Cause Harm

According to Dr Prakash, "Nicotine is the main constituent for which people smoke. Its what gives you the buzz. But, even smoke without tobacco and nicotine contains carcinogenic (cancer-causing substances)."

"So, you are taking all the harms of smoking, without taking the physiological substance for which the craving occurs," he adds.

He goes on to say that at an advanced age its difficult to kick the habit. But, if you're still young and aren't a regular smoker, it's better to avoid the habit altogether to keep it from escalating.

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Topics:  COPD   Smoking Effects 

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