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Hookahs aren’t healthy, city ad campaign reminds young New Yorkers

Hookah use among middle and high school students has been on the rise since 2008, particularly among minority students, according to the city health department.

One hour of smoking hookah is equal to

One hour of smoking hookah is equal to smoking 10 cigarettes, according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Photo Credit: New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

The city’s health department launched a campaign Monday to educate young New Yorkers about the dangers of hookah smoke.

Posters and television ads will spotlight the toxic chemicals used in hookah components, and the long-term effects smoking hookah can have on both smokers and the general public. Just one hour of smoking hookah can expose someone to as much carbon monoxide and tar as smoking 10 cigarettes, according to city Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett.

“Many people underestimate the health risks of hookah. This media campaign provides the truth about hookah smoke: it’s dangerous and harmful,” she said in a statement.

The health department said it has seen an increase in hookah use among middle and high school students, especially minorities. Between 2008 and 2016, hookah use among Latino youth rose from 7.1 percent to 17.3 percent, and among Black youth from 3.2 percent to 7.1 percent.

New city laws will go into effect in October that will ban anyone under 21 from entering a hookah bar. Another law that will go into effect at the same time requires establishments to obtain a permit to offer hookah and display warning signs about the health risks of hookah smoke.

“These laws will help us correct the misconception that hookah is a healthier smoking alternative when, in fact, it is not,” Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, who introduced the legislation, said in a statement.

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