More Teens Are Smoking Hookah — And Mistakenly Believe It's Safer

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Hookahs have been around for a long time — just look at the caterpillar in Alice In Wonderland. But even though these waterpipes are featured in children's cartoons, that doesn't mean they're safe. In fact, many teens underestimate the health repercussions of smoking hookah, according to USA Today.

A study found that more teens are smoking hookah than before. Nearly 1 in 5 high school seniors admit to smoking out of a hookah in the past year. Research also determined that a specific type of teen is more likely to use them — male students from higher socioeconomic status or teens who already smoke cigarettes. Interestingly, living in a big city and having highly educated parents also increase hookah use.

The Center for Disease Control reports that hookah smoking has many of the same health risks as smoking cigarettes, despite the misconception that it's safer. Smoking hookah may cause lung cancer, resporatory illness, or periodontal disease. Also, the charcoal used to heat the tobacco produces smoke that contains high levels of carbon monoxide, metals, and cancer-causing chemicals, CDC reports.

One of the best ways to protect your teens is to educate them about the dangers. Sure, hookahs may seem trendy and innocent, but don't let the fruity flavors or colorful pipes fool them. Tobacco is still tobacco, no matter what form!

Did you know there's a health and well-being magazine for teens? Subscribe to Choices today, and check out past articles about the dangers of smoking, including the side effects of secondhand smoke and how tobacco companies are targeting teens.