Hookah Pens/Sticks – Not For Kids

April 24th, 2013

A fairly recent phenomenon is traveling through New Rochelle, and its users are predominantly middle school aged adolescents. The portable hookah, or as its marketed – hookah pen or hookah stick. You can buy them in gas stations, mini-marts. They are relatively inexpensive but most importantly they can be harmful – a fact teens don’t know!

For those of you who do not know what a hookah is, here is an explanation: a hookah is a water pipe that is used to smoke flavored and sweetened tobacco. The hookah pipe houses separate chambers for the tobacco and water, and has one or more flexible tubing stems from which consumers inhale the tobacco smoke.

Hookah tobacco is often flavored with molasses, fruit pulp or honey and has had additional flavor added, such as coconut, fruit flavors, mint or coffee. Flavorings sweeten the taste and aroma of hookah tobacco, making it more appealing to young people, especially.

Hookah pens/sticks are similiar to the e-cigarette or electronic cigarette which does not contain tobacco but rather utilizes a gas and water to produce a vapor that resembles cigarette smoke. It does however contain nicotine as does the portable hookah products. Morever, a recent article by the American Cancer Society raises more doubt as to the “safety” of the electronic smoking devices. It states:

Electronic cigarettes or “e-cigarettes” are battery-operated devices that allow the user to inhale a vapor produced from cartridges filled with nicotine, flavor and other chemicals. E-cigarette companies promote them as both alternatives to traditional cigarettes and tobacco cessation tools. Some e-cigarettes contain nicotine, a highly addictive drug. The American Cancer Society supports the effort to stop the sale of these products in New York.

There is currently no scientific evidence about the safety of e-cigarettes. In initial lab tests, FDA found detectable levels of carcinogens (nitrosamines) and toxic chemicals, including an ingredient used in  anti-freeze, in two brands of e-cigarettes and numerous cartridges. E-cigarettes have not been approved by the FDA for use in smoking cessation. No evidence exists to show they help people quit smoking.

Despite the fact that e-cigarettes have not been shown to be effective tobacco cessation tools and are not FDA approved, some distributors are marketing them for smoking cessation. In one study, FDA found that some e-cigarette cartridges claiming not to contain nicotine actually did.

Government agencies and medical organizations have expressed concern that e-cigarettes could increase nicotine addiction and tobacco use in young people. E-cigarettes often are made to resemble cigarettes and available in flavors that may appeal to youth. E-cigarettes may lead youth to try traditional cigarettes or other tobacco products, that are known to cause disease and premature death.

Also, you only need to examine the packaging to see who the intended market is – young people. However, you have to be 18 to buy them. Many young people are under the mistaken impression that it is only flavored air they are inhaling and it is completely harmless. Have a talk with them – set the record straight!



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