Tobacco Education Center

Secondhand Hookah Smoke
Facts about Hookah Pipes

Hookahs are glass or metal waterpipes. They are shaped somewhat like a bottle and have long, flexible hoses with tips that people put into their mouths to inhale tobacco smoke. Hookah use originated in India and is popular with some Middle Eastern populations.

In most hookahs, hot charcoal is placed in a bowl on top of the tobacco to heat it. The tobacco, (also called shisha), is usually flavored, and contains many of the same chemicals found in all tobacco, including nicotine.

• Hookah smoking in “hookah bars” has become popular in the U.S, especially among young adults because of the incorrect notion that using hookah is safer than smoking cigarettes.

• Since restaurants and bars in California, (and increasingly in many other states), are required to be non-smoking, the use of Hookahs has moved to outdoor patios. However, as outdoor patios are also becoming non-smoking, apartment owners may discover that their tenants are using hookah in their units.

• According to the California Department of Public Health, secondhand hookah smoke contains the same cancer-causing chemicals found in secondhand smoke from cigarettes and cigars.

• Smoking hookah for 45-60 minutes can be the same as smoking 100 or more cigarettes. In addition, the charcoal used in the tobacco-heating process produces the toxin, carbon monoxide. The use of charcoal can also be a fire hazard if not disposed of properly.

• Research has shown that hookahs deliver three times more carbon monoxide and about the same amount of nicotine as cigarettes. Hookahs also expose their users to 40 percent more smoke by volume than cigarettes.

• Just as secondhand cigarette and cigar smoke can move from unit to unit, hookah smoke will also move from unit to unit and attach to surfaces. It also will become third-hand smoke.

• Just as landlords can prohibit use of cigarettes and cigars inside a unit and/or anywhere on the property, the same can be said for the use of hookahs. When used inside a unit or anywhere on a property, they can create a clean-up problem and a health hazard in the unit in which they are used, and a clean-up problem and health hazard in adjacent units.