A hookah (हुक़्क़ा, حقّہ, hukkah) is a single or multi-stemmed (often glass-based) water pipe for smoking. Originating in India, it has gained popularity, especially in the Arab World. A hookah operates by water filtration and indirect heat. It can be used for smoking herbal fruits.
Depending on locality and supply, hookahs may be referred to by many names, often of Arabic, Indian, Turkic, or Persian origin. Narghilè is the name most commonly used in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Israel, Albania, Bosnia, Greece, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Bulgaria, although the initial "n" is often dropped in Arabic pronunciation. Narghile derives from the Persian word nārgil (نارگیل), meaning coconut, and in turn from the Sanskrit nārikela (नारिकेला), suggesting that early hookahs were hewn from coconut shells.
Shisha (Arabic: شيشة), from the Persian word shīshe (شیشه), meaning glass, is the common term for the hookah in Egypt and the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf (including Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, and Saudi Arabia), and in Indonesia, Morocco, Pakistan, Tunisia, Somalia and Yemen.
In Iran, hookah is called ghalyūn (غلیون), ghālyūn (قالیون), or ghalyān (قلیان). In India and Pakistan the name most similar to the English hookah is used: huqqa (हुक्का /حقہ). The terms "hubble-bubble" and "hubbly-bubbly" are also used.
The commonness of the Indian word "hookah" in English is a result of the British Raj, the British dominion of India (1858–1947), when large numbers of expatriate Britons first sampled the water-pipe. William Hickey, shortly after arriving in Kolkata, India, in 1775, wrote in his Memoirs:
The most highly-dressed and splendid hookah was prepared for me. I tried it, but did not like it. As after several trials I still found it disagreeable, I with much gravity requested to know whether it was indispensably necessary that I should become a smoker, which was answered with equal gravity, "Undoubtedly it is, for you might as well be out of the world as out of the fashion. Here everybody uses a hookah, and it is impossible to get on without" [... I] have frequently heard men declare they would much rather be deprived of their nightly sex than their hookah.
In the Arab world, social smoking is done with a single or double hose, and sometimes even more numerous such as a triple or quadruple hose in the forms of parties or small get-togethers. When the smoker is finished, either the hose is placed back on the table signifying that it is available, or it is handed from one user to the next, folded back on itself so that the mouthpiece is not pointing at the recipient. Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar, Shah of Persia (1848-1896) is reputed to have considered a hookah mouthpiece pointed at him an insult. Another tradition is that the recipient taps or slaps the previous smoker on the back of the hand while taking it, as a sign of respect or friendship.
Most cafés (Arabic: مقهى, transliteration: maqha, translation: coffeeshop) in the Middle East offer hookahs. Cafés are widespread and are amongst the chief social gathering places in the Arab world (akin to public houses have in Britain). Some expatriate Britons arriving in the Middle East adopt shisha cafés to make up for the lack of pubs in the region, especially where prohibition is in place.
In Iran, the hookah is known as a ghalyun (قليان, قالیون, غلیون, also spelled ghalyan, ghalyaan or ghelyoon). It is similar in many ways to the Arabic hookah but has its own unique attributes. An example is the top part of the ghalyoun called 'sar' (Persian: سر=head), where the tobacco is placed, is bigger than the ones seen in Turkey. Also the major part of the hose is flexible and covered with soft silk or cloth while the Turkish make the wooden part as big as the flexible part.
There are mouthpieces called 'Amjid' (امجید) that each person has his own personal one, usually made of wood or metal and decorated with valuable or other stones. Amjids are only used for their fancy look. However, all the Hookah Bars have plastic mouth-pieces.
Use of water pipes in Iran can be traced back to the Qajar period. In those days the hoses were made of sugar cane. Persians had a special tobacco called Khansar (خانسار, presumably name of the origin city). The charcoals would be put on the Khansar without foil. Khansar has less smoke than the normal tobacco.
The smoking of hookah is very popular with the young people in Iran, a large amount of young people can be seen smoking hookahs in local tea shops.
The hookah was, until recently, served to all ages; Iranian officials have since passed a law forbidding its use by those under 20 .
In Turkey, hookah is smoked on a social basis, usually in one's home with guests or in a cafe with friends. Most cities have hookah cafes where hookah is offered with a non-alcoholic drink (mainly tea). This is mostly for health reasons rather than cultural reasons. Often people will smoke hookah after dinner as a replacement for cigarettes. In bigger cities such as Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, and Adana, restaurants may have dinner & hookah specials which include meal, beverage (alcoholic/non-alcoholic), Turkish coffee, and hookah. It is called as "nargile" in the country.
Once the centre of Istanbul's social and political life, the hookah is considered one of life's great pleasures by the locals today. In certain parts of the country, people use hookah cafes to watch popular TV shows, national sports games, etc. and smoke hookah to socialize.
In Israel, the use of hookah, known locally as "Nargila", is prevalent among Middle Eastern Jewish immigrants and their descendants from Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon and Yemen (collectively known as Mizrahi Jews), however the activity of hookah smoking has become common among nearly all young Israelis. Hookah use is also common in the Arab home where families will commonly smoke after a large meal or at a family gathering. Hookahs are becoming increasingly popular within Israel particularly among tourists. Shops selling paraphernalia can be found on most high streets and markets. Most nightclubs also have hookahs. In 2005, due to an increase in use among youth, a campaign was launched by The Israel Cancer Association warning against the hazards of hookah smoking, and the IDF has forbidden the use of hookahs by soldiers within its bases. Israelis use the Arabic word shisha to refer to the tobacco. This is most likely due to a misunderstanding between the two cultures that entered the local slang.
In America, Many Afghans own their own hookah set at home but do not smoke publicly. It has been a long tradition to Afghans to smoke all together with family and friends on special occasions.
In India, where it originated, the hookah is becoming better known, and cafés and restaurants that offer it as a consumable are popular. The use of hookahs from ancient times in India was not only a custom, but a matter of prestige. Rich and landed classes would smoke hookahs. Tobacco is smoked in hookahs in many villages as per traditional customs. Smoking molasses in a hookah is now becoming popular amongst the youth in India. It is a growing trend amongst youngsters and adolescents. There are several chain clubs, bars and coffee shops in India offering a variety of hookahs. The new trends emerging are that of non-tobacco hookahs with herbal flavors. Several modern restaurants are famous for this.
Initially the hookah was only smoked in rural areas until about 3 years ago, when the youth took to it with a vengeance because it was suddenly hip again due to its widespread acceptance in Europe.There are many flavors in hookah like mint,chocolate,strawberry,etc.These flavors do not contain tobacco.
Hookah was virtually unknown by Christian Filipinos before the latter 20th century, yet the popularity among contemporary younger Christians is now vastly growing. In the capital's most cosmopolitan city, Makati; various high-end bars and clubs offer hookahs to patrons.
Although hookah use has been common for hundreds of years and enjoyed by people of all ages, it has just begun to become a youth-oriented pastime in Asia in recent times. Hookahs are most popular with college students and young adults, who may be underage and thus unable to purchase cigarettes.
In South Africa, the terminology of the various hookah components also differ from other countries. The clay "head/bowl" is known as a "clay pot". The hoses are called "pipes" and the air release valve is known, strangely, as a "clutch".
Some scientists point to the dagga pipe as an African origin of hookah
In Spain, the use of the hookah has recently increased in popularity. They are usually readily available to smoke at prices between 5-10€ at tea-oriented coffeehouses, called teterías in Spanish, which are often run by Arab immigrants or have some other sort of affinity with the East. Hookah pipes are usually sold at prices between €10 and €70, and hookah tobacco and charcoal is easily found in those same coffee houses, or at stores run by eastern immigrants. Immigrants and native Spanish alike enjoy this custom, and it is usually seen as a lighter way of smoking than cigarettes. Buying one's own tobacco and hookah can be noticeably less expensive than ordering hookahs at a coffee house.
Hookahs are also becoming increasingly popular in Moscow and other Russian cities. Many bars employ a "hookah man" or "niam" which is commonly pronounced "ni-eem" (кальянщик, tr. kal'yanshchik), often of middle-eastern appearance and wearing an approximation of Arab or Turkish costume, to bring the pipes to customers' tables and wrappings may be provided to each person at the table for hygiene reasons.
Hookahs are popular in Kyiv as well and other Ukrainian cities.
In Germany, smoking hookah (locally called Shisha or "Wasserpfeife", "hookah" is a unknown term) has enormously risen in popularity, originating from a large population of Turkish imigrants in West Germany, particularly in big cities as Berlin and Cologne, where a large amount of hookah bars exist. Hookahs are also very easy to acquire and many shops are specialized in selling water-pipes, flavored tobacco and charcoal. The prices are affordable and as a result, many teenagers own a hookah. The hookah has become also popular in East Germany, where the number of Turkish imigrants is very small, which shows that smoking hookah has become a general youth-trend in the last years (since approx. 2001), no more depending on ethnical backgrounds. Hooka bars are even commonly found in towns with just 100,000 inhabitants and less.
In Italy, hookah bars are still not so common, but their number is increasing, as hookah (usually known only as narghilè) smoking is currently gaining favor and seen as less dangerous and irritating for other nearby than cigarettes (yet, it is covered by the no smoke in public locals law if not for dedicated places or rooms). There used to be a ban by the Italian government on wet and fruit flavoured tobacco, but this ban has been abolished since the production of tobacco in Italy is not limited anymore to the Monopolio di Stato. Italy is now, in fact, a producer itself of high quality hooka tobacco. It is legal in Switzerland.
In Sweden, as well as Norway, hookah smoking is on the rise. Cheap hookahs and hookah-related products, like tobacco and charcoal, are now available in the many kiosk-like businesses run by immigrants, mostly of middle-eastern origin, found in the larger cities. Hookahs are mostly used by teenagers and immigrants, but the use is slowly becoming more widespread. Hookah bars and similar establishments are still very rare though, in part due to anti-smoking laws which forbid smoking in restaurants and in public buildings.
In the Czech Republic, hookah is relatively common in many tearooms (usually cost between 100 and 150 CZK). Hookahs are usually sold in specialized orient-shops and tearooms at prices mostly between 500 and 2500 CZK. Local names for hookah are "šíša", "vodnice", "voďár", "vodní dýmka", etc.
In Lithuania hookah bars (locally named "kaljanas") are popular among young and middle-aged people. It usually costs 30-200 euros.
Hookah ('vesipiip' in Estonian, 'vizipipa' in Hungarian) has also gained major popularity in Estonia and Hungary amongst teenagers, where it has caused controversy amongst the troubled parents. The same goes for Cyprus, its used extended to young adults too. In Nicosia it is offered not only in specialised coffee-shops, but also in restaurants and other places, and often it is considered a given.
Until July 2007, hookahs could be smoked inside any public place. But after smoking was banned inside public places by the government, hookahs are only allowed to be smoked outside. There are, however, a few exceptions to this. If the building has three areas of ventilation, such as two walls with windows and a roof with a skylight that can be opened, then it can be smoked inside. Because England has a somewhat rainy and cool climate, this can present a challenge to outdoor hookah smoking sessions.
Hookah is often found in Indian restaurants but is most commonly found in Lebanese restaurants and Egyptian-run "hubbly-bubbly" bars. Concentrations of these hookah establishments are often found in close proximity to University campuses, as on Rusholme's Curry Mile in Manchester or in Oxford, and they cater to a mixture of British and Middle-Eastern clientel amongst students. A ban on public smoking was enacted in Scotland in 2006, and a similar ban has taken effect in England on July 1st 2007. The smoking ban has not really affected the amount of Hookah bars in London, and these are still very much active in areas such as Edgeware Road.
Recently many cities, states and countries have implemented smoking bans. In some jurisdictions, hookah businesses can be exempted from the policies through special permits. Some permits however, have requirements such as the business earning a certain minimum percentage of their revenue from alcohol or tobacco.
In some cases, hookah bars have been forced to close or consider alternatives, such as offering non-tobacco based maasel. In many cities though, hookah lounges have been growing in popularity. From the year 2000 to 2004, over 200 new hookah cafes opened for business, most of which are targeted at a young-adult age group,and were particularly near college campuses or cities with large Middle-Eastern communities. This activity continues to grow in popularity within the post-secondary student demographic.
In North America, the term 'shisha' is not as commonly used as 'hookah'. Sometimes 'Shisha' can also refer to the Flavored Tobacco inside the pipe as opposed to the Hookah pipe itself. Hookah Bars across the United Statesare growing in popularity, especially in college dense areas. The hookah bars have migrated into American culture and is no longer only a middle eastern tradition. This past year, Boston alone has seen 3 new hookah bars open.
Recently there have been several problems with smoking hookah in Mexico City. A recent law was passed as of 1/IV/08 which prohibits smoking in enclosed spaces, hence many hookah lounges have greatly suffered. This is not the end of the law, for as of 1/VII/08 the next law comes into place prohibiting smoking in enclosed spaces in the State of Mexico (which has 13 million of the 25 million inhabitants of Mexico City and metropolitan area). This will greatly hinder the industry surrounding this trend, for many people smoke socially only.
The growing trend of hookah in Mexico is gradually growing, however it has been difficult for various reasons, such as: 1.- There is no person making hookas in Mexico, hence hookahs need to be imported from India and the Middle East. The problem these imports face is customs in Mexico. Due to the carelesness in customs, many hookahs are broken, hence it greatly affects business for the distributors. 2.- The tax on tobacco in Mexico makes up 80% of the value of the packet being sold. This makes hokah tobacco considerably more expensive. A packet of 250 grams in Bahrain with a price of equivalent to 80pesos, will increase in price to over 350 pesos in Mexico. Hence it creates smoking hookah more expensive and affects its increase in popularity.
There is also a variation of the head which employs a fruit rather than the traditional clay bowl. the fruit is hollowed out and perforated in order to achieve the same shape and system a clay bowl has, then it is loaded and used in the same manner.
Placed at the bottom of the hookah, the water jar is a container through which the smoke from the tobacco passes before it reaches the hose. By passing through water, the smoke gains moisture and is lowered in temperature. The level of the water has to be higher than the lowest point of the body's tube in order for the smoke to pass through it. Liquids other than water may be used, such as alcohol, spirit and/or fruit juice, mint leaves with lemon slices, and in many cases, ice may be put in the bottom of the jar to dramatically lower the temperature, making for a smoother smoke.
The jar at the bottom of the hookah is filled with water sufficient to submerge a few centimeters of the body tube, which is sealed tightly to it. Tobacco is placed inside the bowl at the top of the hookah and a burning charcoal is placed on top of the tobacco. Some cultures cover the bowl with perforated tin foil to separate the coal and the tobacco, which minimizes inhalation of coal ash with the smoke.
When one inhales via the hose, air is pulled through the coal and into the bowl. The air, hot from the charcoal, roasts the tobacco, producing smoke. This smoke passes down through the body tube, which extends into the water in the jar. It bubbles up through the water and fills the top part of the jar, to which the hose is attached. When a smoker inhales from the hose, smoke passes into the lungs, and the change in pressure in the jar pulls more air through the charcoal, continuing the process.
Blending flavours has also become very popular amongst hookah smokers. By mixing two or more flavours more complex tastes have been achieved. The strength and flavor will also differ accordingly to the amount of molasses and how dry or humid the flavor is.
Molasses may also be divided into different strengths of smoke. A light flavor such as mint may be more pleasant and refreshing on a hot day. A heavier flavor such as apple or soft black are better enjoyed on other occasions. The lighter the taste of the molasses the more refreshing it is and the more playful mood of the smoker may take on. On the other side, a more serious flavor will do the opposite.
The relative proportions of tobacco, treacle, fruits and spices, on average, 30%, 50% and 20% respectively. The substance is generally valid for two years; boxes usually indicate the production date. Health warnings about lung cancer risks and cardiovascular disease appear on these products similar to other tobacco products elsewhere in the world.
Some manufacturers produce tobacco-free flavored herbal blends and market these as shisha as well. These herbal blends typically advertise themselves as having no tar and nicotine, thus a safer alternative that is still enjoyable.
Numerous studies have shown that extended use of hookah over many sessions can be as detrimental to a person's health as smoking cigarettes. . Each hookah session typically lasts no more than 10 minutes which is enough to cause cancer in a lab rat, and consists of 50 - 200 puffs which range from 0.15 - 1 litre per puff . This exposes the hookah smoker to considerably more smoke over a longer time period compared with a cigarette which ranges from 0.5 - 0.6 liters per cigarette. While the water absorbs some of the nicotine in the tobacco smoke, the smoker can be exposed to enough nicotine to cause addiction . Furthermore, the water moisture induced by the hookah makes the smoke less irritating and may give a false sense of security and reduce concerns about true health effects .
Other research shows that a 45 minute session of hookah tobacco smoking (tobacco molasses) delivers slightly more tar and carbon monoxide (around 5-10%) than a pack of cigarettes. This study has, however, come under criticism for using unrealistically high temperatures for the tobacco (600-650 degrees C) and using arbitrary figures for tar filtration rates. This could possibly have skewed results, as the carcinogenic and toxin levels of smoke increases dramatically with temperature (Wynder 1958). Common practice is to keep temperatures to degrees which do not "char" the hookah; that is within a temperature range of 100-150 C. (Chaouachi K: Patologie associate all'uso del narghile). The effects of these lower temperatures on tar are inconclusive, though Chaouachi indicates the tar would be less harmful.
Some hookah tobaccos claim to contain 0.0% Tar, but this is misleading because tar is made when tobacco burns. However, when smoking a hookah the tobacco is heated rather than burned. More research is needed to determine the exact amount of tar produced in a session before the burning of the tobacco.
The level of impact on a smoker's health is linked to the set-up and components of the hookah as well. A hookah only utilizing the basic components listed above is believed to have much harsher health consequences than one set-up properly and with various safety devices installed: Since the tobacco in a hookah is roasted as opposed to burned, the density and temperature of the tobacco is paramount to ensure a safer quality of smoke . Distancing somewhat the coal from the tobacco and placing a perforated thermal cover (not to be confused with a wind cover) over the bowl will reduce tar output. Using a Heba diffuser around the down stem in the water basin may provide a slightly greater amount of filtration, however a properly conducted study is needed to validate these claims. The use of a nicotine filter at some stage of the smoke cycle, preferably in the hose, may reduce health risks, but once again a properly conducted study is needed to validate these claims.
Hookahs can also be smoked with tobacco-free flavours. These contain Sugar Cane Bagasse with no tobacco, nicotine or tar. This new method of smoking is aimed at replacing tobacco and eliminates its negative health effects. There have been few studies to show the impact of smoking herbal flavours in Shisha pipes.
Many articles suggest that there is a "huge bulk of evidence" to determine the effects of hookah smoking. Research is under way by Fogarty International Centre-funded Syrian Centre for Tobacco Studies, Egyptian Smoking Prevention Research Institute, Research for International Tobacco Control-funded Tobacco Prevention and Control Research Group at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon.
As the above mentioned are all US-sponsored and financed institutions, it would be good for balance to also mention the existence of other peer-reviewed ground-breaking research led in other parts of the world, namely Europe and Asia . Most recently, the first aetiological study on Hookah Smoking and Cancer ever carried out was published in the Harm Reduction Journal.
As with all other tobacco and smoke products, using hookahs with open canker sores or wounds in the mouth can greatly increase the chances of gum infection, gingivitis, or in rare cases, gum cancer.