Study points to hazards in hookah smoking - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Study points to hazards in hookah smoking

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A new study from the World Health Organization finds that hookah, a water pipe that arrived in the United States from overseas, is not a healthier alternative to cigarette smoking.

The exotic water pipe, known for its sweet smoke and exotic origins, has been available in the U.S. for years, but has recently gained popularity among younger crowds on college campuses and nightclubs. Many smokers believe the water filters out many of the toxins, making the smoke harmless. But health experts say that isn't the case.

"There is no safe form of smoking," says registered nurse Nicole Schult of Beach Urgent Care. "People should smoke at their own risk because it is not safe."

Many of the health issues with hookah smoking stem from the secondhand smoke, which can linger around the smokers. The Zulu Lounge and Bistro, a restaurant on Kings Highway that focuses on international culture, offers the option of hookah to its customers. To combat secondhand smoke, they make sure they have filters in place to keep the air clean.

"We have an extensive filtration device," says Hunter Thames. Zulu also likes to keep the focus of their lounge on the food and nightlife, so they work to keep all of their guests comfortable.

"We never let someone smoke next to someone who's eating. You really don't have to deal with smoke when you come here."

Zulu also uses a very weak blend of shisha, the tobacco-molasses mixture that actually goes into the hookah. The reduced amount of tobacco limits the risk to smokers.

Even so, the World Health Organization does warn that risks can be associated with smoking hookah, and can even be as harmful as smoking cigarettes.

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