Shisha smoking has been cool for a minute now among young people, but research shows it is as dangerous as nicotine.
"Baby, pass me the hookah"- Young Thug on Tyga's 'Hookah'.
Shisha or hookah smoking started in the 1560s and has survived through the centuries. Just like many cultures in faraway places, Hip-Hop transformed shisha smoking from an exclusively Arabian thing into a pop culture staple.
Canadian rap god Drake is a shisha head who has been snapped many times puffing on the scented on the flavoured tobacco.
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The hookah culture started in Nigeria circa 2012, around the same time when many wealthy Nigerians made Dubai their new playground. They picked up the hookah lifestyle on their numerous visits to the famous capital and brought it back to Nigeria.
Hookah smoking is very much the fad right now with many young people opting for it because of the cool factor it adds. Using shisha is not an act of rebellion like smoking cigarettes, or getting a tattoo. Shisha is perceived as exotic by Nigerian millennials. It is definitely a social cool.
While Shisha smoking looks cool on Instagram and SnapChat, many reports have stated that it as harmful and addictive as nicotine.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "a study published in the 2012 issue of CDC's Preventing Chronic Disease (PCD), many hookah smokers believe that smoking a hookah carries less risk of tobacco-related disease than cigarette smoking. However, hookah smoke contains many of the same harmful toxins as cigarette smoke and has been associated with lung cancer, respiratory illness, low birth weight, and periodontal disease."
The World Health Organization has also warned that smoking shisha for an hour is equivalent to smoking 100 cigarettes. "The greater the exposure in terms of duration and amount smoked, the greater the risk to your health," Professor Robert West, director of tobacco studies at University College London told Daily Mail 2012.
If shisha smoking is so dangerous then why is it a growing phenomenon worldwide? Firstly, as earlier it is cool. Secondly, the awareness that shisha is bad for you is not mainstream like cigarettes that everyone knows causes lung cancer.
Going through my SnapChat, I see many young people smoking shisha as they nod their heads to the latest pop tunes from the Nigerian circuit with hookah clouds hovering over them.
How long will it take for cool to become life-threatening?