A recent study at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School shows that Pitt students who try hookah smoking is as about as common as students who try cigarettes. However, it is not a safer alternative to cigarette smoking. University of Pittsburgh Professor Dr. Brian Primack says its aesthetic appeal, the social atmosphere, and the misconception that it is a safer practice all contribute to its popularity. However, Dr. Primack says hookah smoke produces more toxins than cigarette smoke. One study showed that one water pipe session produced 46 times more tar than one cigarette. Another consideration to this study is that people usually share a water pipe and smoke less frequently, while some cigarette smokers go through 20 cigarettes or more each day.
The statewide smoking ban to take affect next Thursday may make hookah bars even more popular, since these establishments can apply for exemptions. Traditional bars that do not rely on tobacco for revenue will not be able to apply for such an exemption.