Alkopops were yesterday - today's youth are on hookahs. According to a recent survey conducted by the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA), 14 percent of young people between the ages of 12 and 17 admitted to having used a water pipe last month. In another study from Berlin's Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district, almost one in three adolescents (31 percent) between the ages of 10 and 15 said that he and his friends were circling the so-called shishas.
Advertising strategies lead to trivialization
However, the Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) warns against trivializing hookah smoking in a cozy atmosphere. Skilled advertising strategies with healthy fruit on the tobacco packs and delicious sounding names such as fruit mix, honeydew melon or mint as well as the charm of the stranger seduce many young people to try out hookahs.
"The waterpipe smoke tastes not strictly according to tobacco, but according to the attached fruit flavors, which often seduces non-smokers to try the hookahs, " says Beate Thier, a doctor at the TK. Oriental hookah bars with comfortable cushions and brightly colored walls do the rest to make young people curious.
Dangerous waterpipe smoke
But the smoking of hookahs is by no means harmless: "The shishas are not a harmless alternative to cigarettes, and you can absorb more pollutants via the hookah smoke than with filterless cigarettes, " says TK doctor Thier.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), water pipe smokers inhale about as much smoke during a hookah session as they do through a hundred filterless cigarettes. In addition, since the smoke cooled by the water does not scratch the throat, it is inhaled deeper than hot cigarette smoke. The result: The nicotine concentration in the blood is significantly higher by smoking shishas than after the consumption of cigarettes.
"Nicotine is responsible for addictive effects, so smoking water pipes as a starter drug is dangerous for adolescents, " says the doctor. Another risk of shisha rounds called Thier infections such as herpes or certain forms of hepatitis, which can spread over the circular mouthpiece of the hookah. In addition, imported tobacco from abroad is often contaminated and often exceeds the maximum permissible levels, such as tar.
The current study results show that the adolescents are unaware of the health risks of hookah smoking - among the respondents in Berlin, only about one in three knew the risks involved. As a first step, the TK therefore insists on better labeling of hookah tobacco in the same way as cigarette packs - with ingredients and warnings that have been awarded in German.