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Experts warn of dangers from smoking hookah

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It’s one of the latest trends in some bars and restaurants: smoking Hookah, a water pipe used to smoke shisha and flavored tobacco. And it has become more popular among Hispanic teenagers and young adults.

There’s a perception that hookah is less harmful than cigarettes, but scientists link it to the same diseases caused by cigarette smoking. Consumer Reports breaks down the hookah warnings.

In some areas, hookah is the new “social smoking” trend in bars and restaurants.

Cigarette smoking has significantly declined in the past decade, but the popularity of hookah is increasing.

The hookah is a water pipe that uses charcoal to heat shisha - a flavored blend of herbal substances. Some shisha contains tobacco, which has nicotine and can be addictive.

Smoke from hookahs can contain carbon monoxide and other toxic chemicals known to increase the risks for smoking-related cancers, heart disease and lung disease.

This trend is attracting more teenagers and young adults. According to a study of NYC middle and high school students, the rate of those students who ever tried hookah went up from about 9 percent to 13 percent between 2008 and 2014. It more than doubled among Hispanic students from 7 percent to almost 18 percent.

But New York City is cracking down with new laws that limits hookah smoking to designated bars and only for people 21 and older.

“That’s what I try to protect, the 8.5 million New Yorkers, to know that the city has the best health policy and one of those is related to treat Hookah as we treat cigarettes.”

One perception is that because the smoke passes through water, the vapor is less harmful. The amount of puffs taken during an hour-long hookah session could be about 10 times more than when smoking just one cigarette.

"People should have more information about what the consequences are for whatever they use. It’s about protecting the consumer."

Secondhand smoke from Hookahs can also be a health risk for non-smokers and kids. Another study found that the three most common places for teenagers to smoke hookah is in their own home, a friend’s house, or another family member’s home.

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