Skip to main content


tobacco user header top tobacco use header middle tobacco use 

header bottom



Hookahs were created in ancient Persia and India and have been used for centuries. A typical, modern hookah involves:

  • A head (with holes in the bottom)
  • Metal body
  • Water bowl
  • Flexible hose with a mouthpiece

Tobacco smoke is drawn through water or a distilled alcoholic beverage, such as vodka, before it is inhaled.

Hookahs are often called:

  • Water pipes
  • Arghile
  • Narghile
  • Hubble bubble

While some people find hookah to be less harmful than cigarettes, no tobacco product is safe. A 1-hour-long hookah smoking session involves inhaling 100-200 times the amount of smoke from one cigarette.

Hookahs are used to smoke "shisha" tobacco. This kind of tobacco comes in many flavors. The charcoal used to heat the shisha exposes the user to high levels of:

  • Carbon monoxide
  • Metals
  • Cancer-causing chemicals (that are also found in secondhand smoke)

Smoking hookah increases your risk of transmitting infectious diseases such as:

  • Tuberculosis
  • Herpes
  • Hepatitis

Hookah smokers are also at risk of developing the following cancers:

  • Oral
  • Stomach
  • Lung
  • Esophageal

Other risks include reduced lung function and decreased fertility.

For more information, read the MDHHS Position Statement on Hookah Use[17]

17. MDHHS_PositionStatementOnHookahUse_507367_7.pdf