Mesude Erşan – ISTANBUL
A number of herb types with narcotic effects are being put in hookahs, according to the head of the Turkish Thoracic Society.
Speaking at the association’s 20th congress, Prof. Ali Fuat Kalyoncu said tobacco is often being mixed with herbs such as opium when hookah is served.
Also speaking at the congress was the association’s Tobacco Control Working Group head Dr. Çağla Uyanusta Küçük, who said surveys showed that a majority of people believe that smoking hookah is less dangerous for health than smoking cigarettes.
“An image has been created that these products, which are marketed as aromatic and fruity, are less harmful than cigarettes. However, the truth is different. The poisonous materials in the fumes of hookah have reached scary levels. They are 50 times more harmful than cigarettes,” Küçük said, adding that the typical amount of arsenic, nickel, cobalt, chromium and lead in hookah was far higher than cigarettes.
The association states that the toxic materials that surface with the burning of sugar in aromatic tobacco and its interaction with nicotine increase the addictive effect. It is known that the tobacco industry uses sugary and aromatic ingredients in hookah tobacco in order to attract young smokers, aiming to make smoking easier by making it tastier.
According to the foundation, the increase in hookah usage started after the tendency to quit smoking increased.
“In some places, it is alleged that due to hookah smoke being filtered with water it is less harmful or not harmful at all. People also think that because there is water, the most harmful substances remain in water. This is just wrong and is similar to misconceptions about cigarette filters. A yellow color stays in the filter and it is thought that all poisonous material is kept there. But these allegations are far from reality,” the association stated on its website.