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Tobacco Prevention Coalition
Health Department



Also known as shisha, nargile, arghile, goza, water-pipe, or hubble bubble.

A hookah is a water pipe used to smoke tobacco through cooled water. The tobacco is heated in a bowl at the top of the hookah and the smoke passes through water in the base of the hookah. In most hookah pipes, hot charcoal is used to heat the tobacco. Coming out the sides of the hookah are long, flexible cord pipes, through which the smokers draw the smoke.

Shisha is the tobacco smoked in a hookah. It is a very moist and sticky tobacco that has been soaked in honey or molasses. Shisha is often fruit flavored, such as apple and strawberry: other flavors include cola, spiced or cappuccino.



What's so bad about hookah?

In a 60-minute hookah session, smokers are exposed to 100-200 times the volume of smoke inhaled from a single cigarette.

The health risks of smoking tobacco through a hookah include major health problems, such as:

  • Lung cancer
  • Lip, tongue and mouth cancer
  • Emphysema
  • Esophagus and Larynx cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease


Sharing mouthpieces without sanitizing them can increase the risk of spreading: 

  • Colds
  • Flu
  • Hepatitis
  • Tuberculosis
  • Oral Herpes


Even those who use their own mouthpiece are not completely free from catching communicable diseases. The hose of the hookah harbors bacteria from each user. You never know what diseases other hookah users have left behind for you.


What's in hookah smoke?

Hookah tobacco contains 4 times the addictive drug nicotine than cigarettes. 

Tar is used to construct roads and is often used in roofing.

Heavy Metals
Hookah smoke is known to contain high levels of arsenic, lead, and nickel.

The concentration of cancer causing agents is 5 times greater than in cigarettes!

Doesn't the water filter the smoke?

The water does not filter the smoke and make it free of harmful substances. Even after passing through water, tobacco smoke still contains high levels of toxic compounds, including carbon monoxide, heavy metals and cancer-causing chemicals (carcinogens). The smoke is merely cooled by the water and forces the smoker to inhale deeper. Diseases, such as lung cancer, then develop deeper in the lungs. 

Falling into the category of "tobacco specialty shops," hookah bars are exempt from Michigan's new smoke free workplace law. However, if the hookah bar currently serves food or liquor, it would be classified as a restaurant or bar and must eliminate all smoking from its establishment. Hookah lounge owners must make the all important decision
- serve food or serve hookah.


It is illegal to sell tobacco- in any form: hookah, cigarettes or cigars (flavored or unflavored) - to minors under the age of 18.