Water Pipes Not Easier on Lungs

Tobacco smoking from water pipes is nearly as harsh on lung function as cigarettes

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Thinking that smoking from a hookah or a water pipe is better on the body is based on myth. Tobacco smoke is tobacco smoke—any way you smoke it.

A recent study compared the lung function of different types of smokers. Results found little difference between water pipe smokers and cigarette smokers.

"Quit smoking today!"

Mohammad Hossein Boskabady, MD, PhD, from Mashhad University of Medical Sciences in Iran, led an investigation into the respiratory effects of water pipe smoking.

For the study, pulmonary function tests (PFT) were done on three different groups of smokers and one group of non-smokers.

The four groups were made up of 57 water pipe smokers, 51 normal inhalation cigarette smokers (S-NI), 30 deep inhalation cigarette smokers (S-DI) and 44 non-smokers.

Each person in the study completed a questionnaire to assess any respiratory symptoms in addition to the PFT.

A spirometer, a device that can measure inhalation and exhalation capacity, was also used to determine respiratory function.

Results of the study found wheezing in 23 percent of water pipe smokers, 30 percent of S-DI and 21 percent of S-NI.

Chest tightness occurred in 37 percent of water pipe smokers, 40 percent of S-DI and 29 percent of S-NI.

Coughing was found in 21 percent of water pipe smokers, 37 percent of S-DI and 20 percent of S-NI.

Only 9 percent of non-smokers experienced wheezing, 13 percent had chest tightness and 7 percent had a cough.

Dr. Boskabady said, “Our study is the first report regarding the importance of the method of cigarette smoke inhalation with respect to effects on the respiratory system.”

“Our findings reveal that there were profound effects of water pipe smoking on lung function values, which were similar to the effects observed in deep inhalation cigarette smokers.”

This study was published in August in Respirology. No funding information was provided and no conflicts of interest were reported.

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Review Date: 
September 11, 2012
Last Updated:
September 15, 2012