Just when anti-smoking advocates thought it was time to celebrate, a new threat has emerged that has some folks fuming.
The good news is that kids are smoking fewer cigarettes than ever before, but they are smoking something else instead — hookah pipes.
If you're unfamiliar with hookah pipes, they are large ornate water pipes that can be used to smoke tobacco. Hookah lounges, where folks can get together and smoke, have been around in other countries for years, but in the U.S., they have made their way from exotic fad to mainstream hangout within the last few years, particularly in college towns.
In a recent study conducted at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., researchers found that 40 percent of the 3,770 college students sampled reported having smoked tobacco from a hookah, while nearly 47 percent reported having smoked a cigarette. In addition, 22 percent of the students who said they were hookah smokers had never smoked a cigarette, indicating that the practice is popular even with kids who steer clear of cigarettes.
What's worse is that many of those kids mistakenly believe that hookah smoking is safer than traditional cigarette smoking. Unfortunately, hookah smoking usually involves deep inhalations that can be more dangerous than traditional smoking.