NICOTINE AND TAR
Hookah does not filter all nicotine and tar but we can say that a one hour session provides more or less a nicotine level equivalent to that found in one cigarette. As for tar, it depends on the size of the device, the nature of water, the frequency of inhalation and other factors. However, don't expect to get more than half of the initial tar filtered out. However, hookah tar is perhaps less dangerous than cigarette tar because the temperatures are completely different: c. 100°C in the first case and c. 900°C in the latter. The more elevated the temperature is the more dangerous and carcinogenic tar is.
IMPORTANT NOTE CONCERNING TAR YIELDS:
There is a tremendous confusion about this point : 36 times, 100 times, 1000 times more tar than a cigarette ? This collective hystery was triggered by a recent controversial study carried on in a laboratory where a puffing machine was supposed to reflect the average smoker's behavior. In fact, it is far from representing a model for narghile smoking in the real world. Besides, what makes "tar" hazardous is not its quantity but the temperatures by which it is supported.
Alan Shihadeh and Rawad Saleh (Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, “tar”, and nicotine in the mainstream smoke aerosol of the narghile water pipe. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 2005 (May); 43(5): 655-661).
In the opinion of Genevieve (*), this controversial study establishes and confirms one sole thing : what smokers should not do :
-smoke like a metronom
-use quick-light charcoal (not "natural")
-not move around the coal above the aluminium foil
-smoke till the end, until the tobamel mixture get sort of charred.
(*) Note: Genevieve, as a young researcher, will publish in 2006 her first study on narghile. Be there !
NICOTINE and DEPENDENCE
It’s hard to decide. On the one hand, really dependent hookah smokers (mostly to be found in Asia and Africa) seem not to become, one day or another, cigarette smokers. On the other hand, the same dependent hookah users (either of unflavoured or flavoured tobacco) would not, in a situation where they cannot access a pipe, switch to cigarette smoking that could, we can assume that, provide them with nicotine. Amazingly, tumbak (raw moistened unflavoured tobacco) smokers, in a situation where a hookah is not available, would not accept, even temporarily, to smoke tobamel (flavoured tobacco) and vice-versa. So, the question of nicotine is not decided at all. Dependence, when it happens (rare in the case of recreational use), would be a complex structure not necessarily centred on nicotine but, rather, on cotinine and flavours not to forget the social and cultural setting of the “situation” which might play a not so minor role.
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