Hookah & Nicotine, What’s all the Hype? 

September 6, 2022

It is no secret that the dangers of cigarette smoking have been disclosed since it was found that the addictive substance can contribute to lung cancer. To overcome the stigma of cigarettes, alternate forms of nicotine use have boomed in the last decade with vape products becoming a hit among young adults.

 In recent years, Illinois moved the age to buy nicotine-containing products from 18 to 21 with hopes that young adults would be steered from using the products. Unfortunately, this didn’t seem to help. 

Vape products have still been gaining popularity with many people at a social gathering passing e-cigarettes around and enjoying a nicotine buzz in good company. According to Mayo Clinic, vaping does not come without consequences.  

Aside from the nicotine being addictive, the flavors in the vape products cause unknown inflammation to delicate lung tissue and affect brain development. One e-cigarette can last up to 10 times longer than a cigarette and contains 20 times more nicotine. 

These dangers are well advertised and yet our peers are still ignoring the consequences. The question becomes, what is all the hype about?

The social aspect of smoking and nicotine use seems to be the driving force behind usage in young adults – which has now carried into Hookah bars that are booming across Europe and the United States. The American Heart Association describes Hookah as a waterpipe smoking method with candy and fruit-flavored tobacco. 

Hookah started in the Middle East as a cultural yet exotic pastime. Hookah sessions last hours compared to cigarette smoking and are bringing young adults in around Hookah tables, creating social events centered around nicotine. 

With Hookah being so new to the western world, the long-term effects are unknown. This new to us form of smoking does not come without its own dangers that are possibly more harmful than e-cigarettes.

 Due to the duration of Hookah sessions and flavoring of the tobacco, Hookah contains up to 10 times more carcinogenic (cancer-causing) agents and carbon monoxide than a single cigarette. 

Hookah bars have not yet come to Decatur, but it is only a matter of time with the nearest one being on a college campus like ours in Normal, IL. The dangers of nicotine are well-published and long-term effects continue to be studied as e-cigarette and vape products grow older. 

In a time where following the crowd seems like the easy thing to do, remember the known when it comes to the use of popular nicotine products – unwanted effects of regular use can include irritation of the mouth, throat and gums, cough, headache, insomnia, and exercise intolerance. 

As an Intensive Care Unit nurse, I have seen firsthand the poor effects of nicotine use. Patients with young children that have lung cancer and chronic obstruction of the lungs on oxygen became all to familiar in my practice. 

Young patients under the age of 30 were admitted to the hospital for weeks on a heart and lung machine because their lungs were so damaged from using vape products. The repercussions of chronic use go far beyond the temporary fun of a nicotine buzz when socializing. 

Don’t let yourself and your friends become a statistic. Millikin University stands proud on promoting an environment that is safe and controlled when it comes to drug and alcohol consumption – and this includes nicotine. 

When out with friends, promote an environment where saying no to nicotine is accepted and a widespread normal. Joining together as a community that diminishes the promotion of social smoking will promote healthy behaviors in our peer group and for ourselves far beyond time spent having fun and getting an education at Millikin. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with nicotine addiction, you are not alone. Millikin University offers free counseling services to all students. Resources outside the university can also be sought with help from our licensed counselors. Visit https://millikin.edu/health/counseling for more information. 



American Heart Association (2019). Hookah smoking gains popularity amid growing evidence of health risks. https://www.heart.org/en/news/2019/01/15/hookah-smoking-gains-popularity-amid-growing-evidence-of-health-risks

Mayo Clinic. (2021). A doctor’s warning about the dangers of vaping. Mayo Clinic Health System. https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/a-doctors-warning-about-the-dangers-of-vaping

Millikin University (n.d.). Alcohol and drugs. Retrieved September 3, 2022, from https://millikin.edu/campus-life/student-resources/policies-standards/alcohol-and-drugs

Millikin University (n.d.). Counseling. Retrieved September 3, 2022, from https://millikin.edu/health/counseling

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