A new study explores how hookah smoking compares to cigarettes.
Inhaling through a hookah or water pipe is thought to filter out the toxic components of tobacco and making it less harmful to the lungs but researchers in Iran found hookah smoking affected lung function almost as much as deeply inhaling cigarettes.
Researchers compared the lung function of three groups of smokers 57 water-pipe smokers, 30 deep-inhalation cigarette smokers and 51 normal-inhalation cigarette smokers and a fourth group of 44 nonsmokers.
Wheezing was found in 23 percent of water-pipe smokers, 30 percent of deep-inhalation cigarette smokers and about 22 percent of normal-inhalation cigarette smokers.
Nonsmokers displayed far fewer symptoms. Wheezing, chest tightness and cough were present in about 9 percent, 13 percent and 7 percent, respectively, of nonsmokers.
Water pipes, often used by young people for smoking flavored tobacco, draw the smoke through water to cool it before inhalation.
The term "hookah" generally refers to a multi-stemmed device that allows several people to smoke simultaneously.
In the United States, hookah bars are on the rise, especially near college campuses.