While many hookah smokers choose to inhale the often flavorful tobacco smoke, the effects are harmful, according to "Men's Health". While doing so exposes the user to different carcinogens than those found in cigarettes, they are no less dangerous.
A 2013 study by the University of California at San Francisco found the presence of benzene in hookah to be more than double the amount found in cigarettes. The study also found the carbon monoxide levels of hookah to be triple those of cigarette smoke. By not inhaling the smoke, hookah users absorb fewer toxic chemicals into their lungs, putting them at a much lower risk for heart attack, stroke and lung cancer.