In recent years, smoking hookah or shisha has become increasingly popular, especially among younger people. It is now common to find hookahs in many pubs, making them easily accessible. Despite the perception that hookah smoking is less harmful than cigarette smoking, evidence suggests that the health risks may be equally serious.
Exposure to toxic substances is a major concern for hookah smokers. Although passing the smoke through water can eliminate some impurities, users are still exposed to many harmful substances found in cigarette smoke, such as carbon monoxide, heavy metals, and carcinogenic chemicals. This can lead to respiratory illnesses, including bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The tobacco used in hookahs contains nicotine, a highly addictive substance. Smokers may develop dependence and face difficulties in quitting. Additionally, shared mouthpieces in hookah sessions can facilitate the transmission of infectious diseases, including viral infections such as hepatitis and herpes. Hookah smoking can also increase blood pressure and heart rate, raising the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Furthermore, hookah use has been associated with gum disease, bad breath, and an increased risk of oral cancer. The president of the Spanish Society of Preventive Medicine, Public Health and Health Management (SEMPSPGS), Manuel García de la Vega Sosa, has warned that a session of hookahs is equivalent to inhaling 200 times the smoke of a cigarette, making their use as harmful as smoking cigarettes.
When addressing the topic of vapes, García de la Vega Sosa has pointed out that, although most contain nicotine, even those without nicotine contain substances harmful to the lungs, such as propylene glycol and glycerin. The appeal of vapes to young people, with a variety of flavors, makes them irresistible and their use continues to expand dangerously.
It is urgent to prevent the beginning of tobacco consumption, especially among minors between 11 and 17 years of age, the age at which this habit usually begins. This would be one of the challenges that Spain must face. It is important to consider these risks before participating in hookah consumption and to be aware of the potential harm to both active and passive smokers.
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