Hookah Craze Blowing Up 

  Hookah Craze Blowing Up 

Posted by CN Staff on September 15, 2003 at 08:05:31 PT
By Joshua Davidovich, For The Diamondback  
Source: Diamondback 

Smoke rises from the middle of a group of people sitting on a couch outside a Knox Road apartment. A girl walks by, stops suddenly and stares at them with wide eyes. "Hey, these guys are just sitting around smoking a huge - a - bong," she says. Her friends pull her away, but she keeps her eyes trained on the source of the smoke - a hookah, a smoking device similar to those used for smoking marijuana that's showing up at universities, including this one, with more regularity these days. 
Jeremy Fistel, a senior general business major and self-described hookah smoker, has encountered this scene about a hundred times. "I've been smoking since before I even came to school here. Most of the time people will walk or drive by, startled that we would flaunt what they think is a bong," he said. The hookah, sometimes also called a nargile or shisha, is a water pipe traditionally used to smoke tobacco mixed with fruit-flavored molasses. The trend has picked up so much around the campus that Prince Cafe, a hookah bar and Middle Eastern restaurant, opened a location on Route 1 last year, adding to the pair already in the Washington area. Several news reports have indicated that hookah sales and interest have skyrocketed in the last three to five years, with some estimates at about 500 percent a year. Smokers who frequent Prince or bars in other cities become part of a club, one that's exclusive but rapidly expanding. Adel Monam, a manager at Prince, said the cafe is always busy and estimated about 35 percent of its customers are university students. "On Friday and Saturday nights we are packed, both inside and outside the store," he said. Monam said Prince carries 45 different flavors of tobacco, ranging from sweet melon to coconut, with double apple being the most popular flavor. Students are searching for something different, Monam said, and that's why there is such a new interest in hookah. "The smoke is much smoother and better-tasting than a cigarette. It is water filtered and doesn't harm you as much as a cigarette would," he said. The hookah is made of four parts: A brass pipe with a protruding hose sits on top of a glass vase. The hookah tobacco sits in a clay bowl on top of the pipe. Put together, the average hookah is about 2 feet tall, but they vary in size and many have multiple hoses. The tobacco is lit with a flat cylinder of charcoal that becomes red-hot with the flick of a lighter. Smoking hookah is the perfect cap to a long day of class, said A.J. Gordon, a junior history major. "It's like a social event," he said. "You get to sit around and chill with friends." Although it has only recently become popular in the United States, hookahs have been popular in the Middle East, where they originated, since the 17th century, according to Sami Romman, part owner of, a hookah ordering website. Fistel believes the smoky aroma could be a useful tool in international and religious relations. "I was first introduced to it by my Egyptian friend in high school," he said. "With me being a religious Jew and him a religious Muslim, it was the hookah that really brought us together." He also said he thinks students are drawn to the hookah because it's safer than cigarettes. "It gives people an alternative that's non-drug related, and with all the negativity - although deserved - surrounding cigarettes, with all of the carcinogens and other crap that goes in it, people are open to an alternative means of relaxation," he said. "If you're going to do something anyway, hookah is probably the least harmful," Gordon added. But many doctors throughout the country disagree with Fistel and Gordon's health claims. Many said hookah smoking could possibly be more dangerous than smoking conventional cigarettes; the smoke often contains more carbon monoxide - a harmful carcinogen - than cigarettes. Dr. Ziv Gamliel, director of the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit at the University of Maryland University Medical Center in Baltimore said hookahs are just another way to inhale a large amount of tobacco and can be just as harmful as cigarettes. "The tobacco has the same amount of carcinogens and tar, and whereas a cigarette can filter out much of the tar, the hookah lacks that ability because it is just water filtered," he said. "Many people hold the smoke in their lungs for longer which may cause a higher tendency to become addicted to the nicotine in the tobacco." The university bans hookahs of any kind. Ari Ross, a resident assistant in South Campus Commons, said he was told to write up anybody he finds with a hookah in his or room because the university classifies it as drug paraphernalia. Fistel said his off-campus apartment is a safe refuge for anybody wishing to gather around the hookah. "I've been bothered by the cops a couple of times, but I just show them that nothing but tobacco is smoked in it, and they leave me alone," he said as he drove to Aladdin Food Mart in Laurel. Aladdin specializes in Middle Eastern groceries but also stocks hookahs and smoking supplies. Mary Khoury, a clerk at Aladdin, said she has noticed an increase of interest in hookahs among younger people. "It's kind of like Apple Jacks," Fistel said referring to the cereal's popular commercial. "We don't know why we like it, we just do." Note: Bars in College Park, DC give students a place to enjoy various tobacco flavors.Source: Diamondback, The (MD)Author: Joshua Davidovich, For The DiamondbackPublished: September 15, 2003Copyright: 2003 Maryland Media, Inc.Contact: opinion dbk.umd.eduWebsite: -- Paraphernalia Archives

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Comment #9 posted by HookahLuv on November 29, 2007 at 08:20:46 PT:
Great Hookah Info Website 
Hookah sales have definitely started to rise in the last few years. I came across a hookah blog with very useful information as well. Visit
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Comment #8 posted by hookahking on November 08, 2005 at 13:27:20 PT:
Build Your Own Hookah at ... OH MY GOD!! This site is sick!! You can custom build your own hookah in real time! meaning you preview the entire hookah as you build it!!You can buy hookah flavors like Strawberry Daiquiri, Cherry Coke, Pina Colada, and anything you can think of!This is seriously the best hookah site I have ever seen. go check it out now!
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Comment #7 posted by HookahShisha on February 14, 2005 at 20:16:13 PT:
Hookah Shisha Online Store
Hey have you guys checked out this website? you can Build Your Own Hookah by choosing the Hookah Glass Base, the Hookah Stem with the Tray and the Bowl, and the Hookah Hose. It's pretty cool. Check it out let me know what you guys think. I love it! Hookah Shisha Online Store
Hookah Shisha Online Store
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on September 15, 2003 at 20:07:52 PT
News Article from Mens News Daily
Mom, Drugs, And Apple Pie September 15, 2003By Fred ReedI wish someone would explain to me the War On Drugs, or at least why we think there is one. I grant that I'm just a country boy, and intellectually barefoot, and can't understand things that don't make sense. For that you have to go to Yale. Help me. As the newspapers tell it, drugs are somebody else's fault. Mexico's, for example, which grows and ships drugs. Yep, our drug problem comes from them. Colombia makes us take drugs too. In Washington you often see Colombians with machetes to peoples' throats, making them use drugs. Sometimes they actually block traffic. The Afghans grow drugs for the American market, but it's not their fault, because they are our allies and love us and fight terrorism. Does this make sense? Maybe it's because I'm slow, but looks to me as if America has a drug problem because Americans want drugs. It isn't Colombia. You might as well blame Toyotas on Japan as blame cocaine on Colombia. If we didn't want Toyotas, we wouldn't buy them. Drugs, too. Drugs are as American as barbecue sauce. Everybody here wants drugs. Kids want drugs. Country boys in pickups want drugs. Fancy consultants want drugs. All God's chillun want drugs. Throw in people who don't think they want their minds altered, but gobble Prozac like anteaters on a bug pile. They're drugged-up to the gills, but don't know it. Complete Article:
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Comment #5 posted by Dan B on September 15, 2003 at 11:28:06 PT
Wolfgang Wylde
The irony is not lost on me. It is a travesty that he is going to jail. It is good, though, that we keep being handed idea after idea, some from the feds themselves (using the USA Patriot Act against them), and some from college students with ingenuity.The tide is turning. Most people believe that the incarceration of Tommy Chong is absurd and stupid--even those who traditionally don't say a word about such things. One more thread in the veil over people's eyes has been removed. That veil should be getting quite threadbare by now.Dan B
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Comment #4 posted by WolfgangWylde on September 15, 2003 at 10:42:42 PT
And Tommy Chong... going to prison. So it goes.
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Comment #3 posted by Dan B on September 15, 2003 at 10:28:48 PT
Another Point
Of course, the most important message in this article is that, indeed, hookahs are being used for the smoking of tobacco. This is an important documentation for anyone charged with possession of "drug paraphernalia" when the "paraphernalia" is a hookah. It also, by extension, gives pause to the assumption that bongs are only used for smoking cannabis. The police (federal, state, local) should now have to prove that any confiscated hookah or bong is indeed used for the sole purpose of smoking cannabis. If said paraphernalia is an unused item, they have no basis for a paraphernalia charge. Some lawyers need to jump on this. Dan B
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Comment #2 posted by Dan B on September 15, 2003 at 10:22:34 PT
Spot On, Mike!
Great point. That quotation about bowled me over (pun intended).Dan B
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Comment #1 posted by Mike on September 15, 2003 at 08:27:37 PT:
"It gives people an alternative that's non-drug related"If nicotine were made illegal it would become very bit of a "problem" as heroin is today. But most readers of this forum are privy to good sense and the obvious.
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