Sue Thompson, Grand Forks, letter: Hookah smoke may be hazardous to healthWe are speaking out to help protect the community from the negative health effects of hookahs.
GRAND FORKS — Recent Herald stories about a new hookah lounge raise concerns among the membership of the Grand Forks Tobacco Free Coalition.
We are speaking out to help protect the community from the negative health effects of hookahs. Risk of harm is evident.
Many reputable organizations (including the Mayo Clinic, World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and American Lung Association) have conducted research on hookahs, also known as waterpipes. All have concluded that hookah smoking is not a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes.
Here is what the research says:
** Because a typical hookah session lasts anywhere from 20 to 80 minutes, an individual can inhale as much smoke during one session as a cigarette smoker would inhale consuming 100 or more cigarettes.
** The analysis of hookah smoke reveals significant amounts of nicotine, tar, heavy metals, carbon monoxide and carcinogens (cancer causing chemicals). Hookah smoking is at least as addictive and harmful as smoking cigarettes, if not more.
** The social aspect of hookah smoking can be made appealing to young people, who ironically are at the greatest risk for addiction to nicotine.
Unfortunately, the social aspect of hookah smoking may also put many users at risk for diseases that are spread from person-to-person, such as tuberculosis and viruses such as hepatitis, herpes, meningitis and influenza. Shared mouthpieces and the heated moist smoke enhance the opportunity for such diseases to spread.
The Grand Forks Tobacco Free Coalition supports the idea of young new entrepreneurs looking for the next big idea, but hookahs will put the public’s health at risk. Our mission is to create and promote a healthier, tobacco-free community through education, legislation and enforcement of policies.
For more information, please visit tobaccobytes.com.
Thompson is a community facilitator with the Polk County Public Health Department’s Chemical Free Health Initiative in Crookston. She wrote this letter on behalf of the Grand Forks Tobacco Free Coalition.