Hooked on Hookah

Devin Skolnick ’11 & Sammy Warshaw ’12
Web Features Editor & Staff Writer

It invades your Facebook news feeds. It’s seen at parties. It even moonlights as a best friend’s fake lamp.

It’s hookah.

According to Dictionary.com, a hookah is “a tobacco pipe with a long, flexible tube by which smoke is drawn through a jar of water and thus cooled.” This product has become a featured aspect of many local venues.

Although hookah has gained a reputation for being a healthy, non-tobacco containing cigarette alternitive, it should be noted that hookah is a tobacco product and includes the same risks as all other tobacco products.

Hookah began when Indian natives developed a simple smoking device that soon became a symbol for their culture. Slowly, it made its away across the globe to Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and eventually the Americas.

The owner of a local smoke shop, who asked to remain anonymous,  explained that in order to purchase a personal hookah, a customer must be 18 years or older. This is because it is a tobacco-related product. Ranging from $35 to $200, hookahs can differ in size, quality, and design. While some are intricately decorated with colorful patterns, others are simplistic in aesthetics— yet all serve the same purpose.

Rather than owning a personal hookah, an alternative is to go to Sky Hookah Bar & Lounge in Fairfield.

According to owner Anwar Malas, participants must be 16 to enter, and 18 or older to partake in smoking. The spot offers about 50 flavors, ranging from peach and watermelon, to mint and double apple. Malas promises an atmosphere full of “relaxation and variety.”

Sky claims that it’s products “do not contain tobacco,” and that hookah “is meant for meditation.” Rather than inhaling tobacco, the customer ingests molasses and honey. Although not exactly harmless to one’s body, these two ingredients serve as a different option for those who do not want to smoke tobacco.

Hookah enthusiast Jenn Hoets ’11 stated how in society, she believes hookah is an accepted pastime.

“In retrospect, it is a piece of Middle Eastern culture, and it’s not nearly as harmful to your health,” she said.

Breezi Toole ’10  said that smoking hookah provides an environment with “a good way to relax and hang out with friends, without doing drugs or drinking.”

She then added, “It does not seem like hookah carries health risks because it has good flavors that mask the taste of the chemicals.”

Matt Brill ’10 has his own reasons of why he doesn’t engage in smoking hookah. Although he agrees that its an accepted activity amongst his friends, he admitted that “I personally wouldn’t do it. It’s against my morals, but I still wouldn’t judge anyone.”

Jason Davis ’11 has also recognized hookah’s rise to prevalence. “I hear it’s chill. All the cool kids are doing it,” Davis said.

Despite hookah’s recognition amongst teenagers, Dr. Ian Weir of Norwalk Hospital strongly believes that people are unaware of hookah’s serious health risks.

“Hookah has tobacco, which includes nicotine. Kids believe [hookah] is less damaging because it is not a part of our daily culture,” said Weir. “Tobacco is tobacco. There is no getting around it.”

Weir advised all teenagers to steer clear from hookah.

“Try your best to stay away from any nicotine product,” he said. “It is the single most addictive thing in the world.”