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Home > What's New > Hookah
  • Hookah2010-04-14
  • Though hookah only recently became hip here, the water pipe social ritual is deeply entrenched in Arab culture. Hookah flourished in 17th century Turkey and quickly spread through the Middle East, briefly surfacing on European radar when Lewis Carroll populated his “Alice in Wonderland“ with a hookah-smoking caterpillar.

    For 400 years, the basics have remained essentially intact: Tobacco is tamped into a bowl perched on top of a vertical metal stem and ignited by charcoal. The resulting smoke is drawn down through the tube into a glass bowl half filled with cool, bubbling water, where the smoke is filtered before being drawn out into a flexible tube that can be passed around.

    Although cigarette smoking is prohibited in restaurants, hookah bars are exempt. Advocates say that the water-filtered tobacco produces relatively “clean“ secondhand smoke that contains less than 1% nicotine. By contrast, they say, nicotine makes up about 14% of cigarette smoke emissions.

    However, Dr. Michael Thun, who heads epidemiology research for the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, warns that “smoking pipe  has about the same cancer-causing potential as cigars.  that the water would filter out the toxins is an appealing possibility, but the likelihood is that the smoke bubbles through the water, that the water quickly becomes saturated with toxins and that ultimately what you have is smoke that’s cooler but no less toxic.“

    Up in Smoke co-owner Rodney Lazar, who moved to the United States from Iran when he was 10, says, “In the Middle East, shisha cafes are like Starbucks: You’ve got one on every corner. When you don’t want to be in the house you go out and have a hookah, hang out with your friends, talk about what you did during the day. You unwind. So we took that concept, except we expanded it and said, how do we make it kind of hip, how do we make it cool?“


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