According to a group of scientists hookah (water pipes) smoking is as bad if not worse than cigarette smoking

For many people, smoking water pipes, commonly known as hookahs are a better alternative to cigarettes as they believe that they are less harmful. Many bars and cafes are also introducing hookahs in their businesses to draw in the crowd.

However, a group of scientists have stated that the popular belief about hookah being a safe alternative to cigarettes is totally untrue. In fact, through a study, these scientists have found that hookah smoking is as bad as cigarette smoking, if not worse.

"Water-pipe smoking at 'hookah bars' has become popular with young people in the United States, and some believe that it is less harmful than cigarette smoking," said Peyton Jacob III, Ph.D., a University of California, San Francisco research chemist at San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center. "We report for the first time that toxicant exposures from water-pipe and cigarette smoking differed in pattern, with higher exposure to some toxicants like carbon monoxide and benzene in water-pipe smokers."

The study was conducted on 5 adult women and 8 adult men. These 13 people indulged in smoking both hookah and cigarettes. These participants were asked to first smoke cigarettes for four days and then later asked to smoke hookah.

It was found that while smoking hookah exposed these participants to half the amount of nicotine as cigarettes did, the carbon monoxide levels in people who smoked hookah were 2.5 times higher than in people who smoked cigarettes. Carbon monoxide is known to increase the risk of stroke, heart attacks and sudden death in people with heart or lung diseases

"People want to know if it is a lesser health risk if they switch from cigarettes to smoking a water pipe on a daily basis," Jacob said. "We found that water-pipe smoking is not a safe alternative to cigarette smoking, nor is it likely to be an effective harm reduction strategy."

The research was published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.