What is a hookah?

The hookah, or shisha, was used originally as a religious practice in regions such as India and the Middle East. It consists of a water-filled bowl, a pipe filled with tobacco and flavoring, and a flexible hose that’s used to smoke the tobacco.

Though shisha smoking has been around a long time, it’s only recently that their use has been growing, particularly among teenagers and young adults. The American Lung Association estimates that almost 600,000 high school students (4.1%) and 140,000 middle school students (1.2%) have used a hookah in the last month.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that the social aspect of hookah use may be driving its popularity. Hookahs are typically smoked in groups of friends and family. Dedicated hookah cafes are becoming increasingly popular not only in Europe and the Middle East, but in the United States.