Hookah smoke on the rise
T he hookah smoking culture which was once restricted to the cosmopolitan cities, has now become one of the common trends in smaller cities too and Mangalore is no exception.
With several pubs that once began to promote hookah smoking culture, the youth were more drawn towards this trend.
Though the district administration’s ban on the usage of hookah in bars and pubs in the district, has mellowed down the trend to certain extent, the fact that flavoured hookahs are abundantly available in the city based shops and are sold to the youth indicate its popularity among a section of the society.
The flavoured hookahs available in the market are preferred by the youth. Out of over 120 varieties of hookah flavours that are sold in the market quite a few varieties are available in some of the selected shops of Mangalore.
These exotic flavours are boosted of giving ‘cool’ experience to the hookah smokers while socialising. However, with the ban on use of hookahs in the bars, now the consumption of these flavours is restricted to those individuals who own a hookah or sheesha which costs above Rs 1,500. The youth go for either of the four option which include single, double, triple or quadruple hose.
The wide varieties of hookah pastes available in the market range from green apple to strawberries and from banana to apricot. Each of these flavours offer a different smoking experience to the inhalers. If ‘Banana’ flavour offers familiar childhood treat, ‘Aniseed’ gives a strong long lasting flavour.
‘Guava’ gives strong distinctive aroma and addictive taste, ‘Coffee’ flavour gives the coffee drinking experience, ‘Bombay Pan Masala’ offers the blend of Indian herbs and spices taste. These are a few of the abundant flavours that are available in the market.
A 500 gram pack of these flavours costs anywhere between Rs 60 to Rs 200 depending on the brand. Along with the local flavours, the imported flavours specially from the Arab nations are more preferred by the youth. The imported once are costlier and their range starts from Rs 150 per half kg pack.
According to a city based college student, who did not wish to be named said that since the ban on the use of hookahs in the city based pubs, now the youth are made to smoke hookahs at their houses or other socialising places.
But the hookah trend in some of the Manipal pubs, which actually introduced the hookah culture to this part of the region, is still on, he said.
As preparing hookah is itself a challenging task and only a few have the skill to prepare it, the one who prepares the best of the hookah is most celebrated among the circle.
Voicing in favour of the youth who smoke hookah, he said that as the tobacco content is comparatively less in flavoured hookahs, considerable number of youth today quit smoking only to replace it with hookah.
“If a chain smoker quits smoking and replaces the habit with hookah, then he will be on a little safer side as one can not smoke hookah everyday. So from the daily smoking, to occasionally intake of hookah, the shift in the trend seems better. Moreover the nicotine content in hookah is less compared to cigarette,” he said.
‘Hookah is harmful’
In contrast, speaking to City Herald, city based Pulmonologist Dr Vishnu Sharma said that any type of smoking regardless of what you smoke, is bad for health. Be it cigarette or hookah, they are injurious to health as long as they have tobacco content in them.
“The consumption would gradually lead to severe health problems like lung cancer, throat cancer, heart diseases, neurological problems, paralysis etc. More importantly, the consumption of tobacco causes impotency among the youth,” he said.