Richmond, VA—Hookah bars have been appearing all over central Virginia and gaining popularity, but smoking a hookah pipe may not be any safer than smoking cigarettes, according to new research.
Hookah bars sell tobacco with a variety of flavors, which is then smoked through a pipe. A new study says that although hookah pipe smoking is widely regarded as safer than cigarette smoking, research shows that it is not…smoking from a hookah pipe may actually be more dangerous.
"We believe that hookah bars are intentionally misleading the public and they're making it attractive in many ways to young people," says Wayne Frith with Chesterfield Substance Abuse Free (SAFE).
Frith says many people he has talked with believe that hookahs are a safe alternative to cigarettes. But the University of California study found three hookah sessions were equal to smoking eleven cigarettes, with greater exposure to the chemical Benzene. Benzene puts individuals at a greater risk for leukemia.
Frith say she is concerned that while cigarettes are being highly regulated, hookahs are flying under the radar.
"Because it is not a cigarette, somehow it's not as dangerous, and we need to change that perception."
8News contacted several local hookah lounges about this issue. One had no comment, another did not want to go on camera, but says companies have been more aggressive about putting warning labels on their products.
Stay with 8News for updates.
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