I am renaming my dogs.
Hereafter Fly will be called Hookah, Luci will take the name Shisha and Cappy will be known as Nargileh. This way I can gather my pack and embrace the latest social networking craze: Hookah Cafes. Straight from the Middle East….Check it out! There is one near you, unless you live in North Dakota or Northeastern Pennsylvania, which is why I am having to improvise.
Apparently the allure of entering a smoke-filled cafe is that one’s friends are also entering this carcinogenic cloud. Together you ritualistically prepare the fruit and sugar-laced tobacco in a water pipe–hookah, shisha, narghila–light it up, and alternately take puffs, laugh, flirt, and chat; sharing your smoke and your germs as the pipe is passed around the crowd.
I am of the generation that nicked their parents’ cigarettes or soaked them in water before stuffing them back into half-empty packs, all in a zealous attempt to make those poor ignorant fools understand that The Surgeon General Has Determined that Cigarette Smoking is Dangerous to Your Health! I am a bit confused by this generation, who has grown up among health nuts and vigorous anti-smoking campaigns, and their decision to embrace the communal smoking of said product.
I suppose I should be grateful that my child is smoking maassell and not hashish or opium. But I find myself astonished and concerned nonetheless.
Perhaps this is a push-back to the constant digital cloud that buzzes around and through them? That by sitting in a real cloud surrounded by real friends talking in real time these young adults are experiencing a kinship and community that my generation got to have, and took for granted? I applaud the gathering, the talking, the shaping and sharing of cultures from around the world. I worry though about the unintended consequences of these Hookah Cafes:
In the Middle Eastern studies, hookah smoke has the same amount of nicotine and tar particles as cigarette smoke. There are even unique poisons and evidence of lead arsenics that come from smoking out of the hookah’s heavy metal pipe. The amount of carbon monoxide is also very high and related to heart attacks. Secondhand smoke contributes to breast cancer and has been linked to lung cancer.
One session of hookah smoke (approx. 45 min.) is the equivalent of smoking one pack of cigarettes per day. The blood levels and genetic changes of the bronchial tubes and chromosome changes of hookah and cigarette smokers are about the same. There is just as much damage from both.
Dr. Herman Kattlove, a medical editor at the American Cancer Society
Making an informed decision about joining the Hookah culture means seeing past the myth that the water pipe’s filtration limits exposure to the contents of tobacco smoke; it means moving beyond the enticement of a sweet taste and a communal experience.
Take the time to research what carcinogens and heavy metals you will be inhaling. Consider what gets transmitted as the pipe gets passed; are you ready to develop tuberculosis, herpes, or hepatitis in the name of Hookah?
All things considered, I would rather enter the kitchen, embrace my renamed pups and pass the kibble. I hope my young adult friends can find an alternate Hookah Cafe, too.