Hooked on Hookah
Students share the subtleties of hookah.
Todd Miller | Feature writer
Mustafa Alzanadi says dedicated hookah users do it for the flavor.
“A good flavor won’t make for a good hookah,” said Alzanadi, senior in manufacturing. “Short-cuts can be taken, but it takes careful preparation to make a smooth and enjoyable flavor.”
Hookah smoking is a way of smoking tobacco. But rather than smoking a cigarette or a pipe, the tobacco is smoked through hoses attached to a vase-like structure called a hookah. This tobacco often comes in a variety of flavors like apple, grape or cherry, and doesn’t contain some of the chemicals and preservatives found in cigarettes.
Alzanadi says that there used to be a hookah bar in Pittsburg, but it is no longer in business.
“I went to that bar, but I didn’t like it,” Alzanadi said. He says he didn’t care for it because they would interchange different flavors in the same hookah.
“It mixes the flavors up and makes it taste bad,” Alzanadi said. Alzanadi says that there are also a couple hookah bars still operating in Joplin.
Alzanadi says he doesn’t smoke cigarettes and prefers hookah smoking because he enjoys the flavor. However, Alzanadi says that the hookah needs to be prepared and taken care of to make the most out of each hookah-smoking session.
“If you’re not going to do it right, don’t bother,” Alzanadi said. “You’re not going to get anything, just have a cigarette.”
Alzanadi says it’s best to use the same flavor in the same hookah and hose. He says he uses one of his three hookahs only for his favorite flavor, a mix of green and red apple flavored tobacco. The other two he lets his friends use with whichever flavor they prefer.
“I don’t care if they use other flavors, just don’t smoke it in mine,” Alzanadi said.
Alzanadi says he prefers to buy tobacco from Arabic markets or online from Arabic producers because it’s cheaper. However, he says there are also some U.S. producers of hookah tobacco.
“This one is my favorite, ‘Red Starbuzz,’” Alzanadi said. “But it’s too expensive, so I usually get the ‘two-apple.’”
Although hookahs don’t have the same chemicals found in cigarettes, it doesn’t mean they’re good for you.
“Hookah smoking has the same risks of cigarette smoking,” said Carrie Farrington, nurse practitioner at the Student Health Center. “You’re still breathing in smoke. It has the same health risks and chance of addiction as any other way of inhaling nicotine.”
Farrington says that hookah smoking may be more immediately dangerous than cigarettes.
“When you smoke from a hookah, you smoke a lot longer,” Farrington said. “The amount of smoke you take in at once could be 100 to 200 percent more than a single cigarette.”
Alzanadi says that one session of “smoking easy” lasts about an hour, more or less.
Farrington also comments on the social aspect of hookah smoking.
“A group of people will share the same mouthpiece, which can increase the spread of infectious disease like colds, herpes or oral viruses,” Farrington said. “You don’t see this problem in cigarettes because most people don’t share those when they’re smoking.”
Hookah smokers seem to have found a solution for this problem, though. Alzanadi says he has a small plastic tube, which is inserted and easily removed from the mouthpiece of the hookah’s hose.
“My friend wanted to smoke, but he had a cold,” Alzanadi said. “I made sure he used this the whole time we smoked so I wouldn’t catch his cold.”