Hookah pen: The latest smoking craze

The electronic cigarette has had a rocky start. It is frequently portrayed in the media as something only a fool would use. You might say the e-cigarette has an image problem.

Even cigarette companies managed the media better than this.

Cigarette companies joined forces with Hollywood to make cool smoking characters. Who can forget James Bond (Sean Connery) with a cigarette dangling casually out the corner of his mouth, undisturbed by all manner of physical violence, as was his hair!

Enter the hookah pen, a re-imagined e-cigarette. This is very brightly painted, an almost psychedelic contraption that is reminiscent of 1970’s rock album art. It’s not hard to figure out who this is marketed to. It kind of time warps you back 40 years to black- lighted Spencer’s Gifts Stores. The hookah pen is an e-cigarette for the avant-garde – and possibly our children.

In case the e-cigarette has not caught your attention, it is long, thin and vaguely cigarette like. It uses a battery operated heating element to vaporize a liquid that you inhale. This is more flavored steam than smoke. Still, it manages to be a very smoking-like experience.

In a traditional hookah the liquid that is burned is a mixture of tobacco and molasses. This provides nicotine and hundreds of other chemicals from burned tobacco. Note that it’s not safer than any other type of tobacco smoking.

But the hookah pens advertise that the liquid burned in the device has no tobacco, no nicotine and no tar resins. So, you might ask, what’s the point? Isn’t smoking a hookah pen kind of like kissing your sister?

Discussions of Coke or Pepsi notwithstanding (sorry Sharon Stone), it does give a young person practice on the ritual of smoking. They put the darn thing in their mouth and intentionally inhale warm vapors. It is part pacifier, part forbidden fun?

Once they have practiced that, it’s an easy step to exchange the perfumed liquid cartridge for the real one that has nicotine.

Cigarette smoking exists today because most people got into smoking before they were old enough to make an informed decision. Nicotine, aside from being poisonous, is a pretty amazing drug. It makes you more calm and alert simultaneously. It’s the only drug that does both.

So you become that James Bond person – cool under fire and thinking faster than everyone around you. But cigarette smoking is addictive and gives you cancer and heart disease. And you have to be way smarter than JB to beat either of these.

People trying to quit smoking complain about missing the ritual as much as the physical withdrawal. The morning cigarette with the first cup of coffee is described with loving detail by any ex-smoker. They speak about not knowing what to do with their hands and the physically comforting sensation of handling the cigarettes and lighter.

The use of a hookah pen is not dangerous in and of itself. But it encourages a smoking-like habit, and that is the last thing a young person needs to experience.

Perhaps 20 years from now we will be able to tell you positively whether hookah pens lead to smoking. In the meantime, my kids don’t play with guns or e-cigarettes. What about your kids?

Take care,

Dr. B

Donald Bucklin, MD (Dr. B) is a Regional Medical Director for U.S. HealthWorks and has been practicing clinical occupational medicine for more than 25 years. Dr. B. works in our Scottsdale, Arizona clinic.

photo credit: leonardrodriguez via photopin cc
photo credit: Thirteen Of Clubs via photopin cc

15 Responses to Hookah pen: The latest smoking craze

  1. I’ve tried the electronic hookahs, not because it “makes one look cooler” but because I saw a cool smoke trick on vine. That’s the only reason I or any of the people I’ve met who use hookah pens have ever used them. They don’t taste gross and aren’t addictive like cigarettes. And there’s no second hand smoke or age restriction, so there’s no reason for it not to be okay to use keeping the general public in mind. It’s all in good fun and essentially harmless. Going from candy flavored water vapor to nicotine infused tobacco is a big step and not one that’s likely to happen.

  2. I am 13, I have always wanted to do cool smoke tricks and all. I have tried “Smoking Smarties”, Boring. I really want something just like the Hookah pens, I am a Magician, Nerd, Gamer, Comedian, BMX Racer, BMX Trials Rider, Can solve a Rubix cube in under 1 minute, and I think Smoke tricks would be a perfect Addition to my ever growing list a skills and tricks. I never plan to Drink, Smoke, or anything Drug and achohol related. I also have a very addictive personality, and a super short fuse, I have a bad habit of M*****b****g more often then I should, and I would like to find a different outlet, that is less addictive, yet is fun, and unique.

    Long Explanation, short, Do you think Hookah pens are a good decision for me?

  3. My name is kathy I’m 14 and I want to do smoke tricks with these non nicotine hookah pens what do u suggest

  4. I used to do exctacy and crack every day and I’m 15. About a month ago I discovered hookahs and have done no other drugs since. I now have more friends and have much better grades. They’ve defiantly helped me turn my life around.

  5. Hi to every body, it’s my first visit of this blog; this website
    consists of awesome and truly good material for visitors.

  6. Ok so I’m not here to go on and on with my life (I’m 15 and a freshman boy) because I just want a couple simple questions to be answered. I’ve been searching the web everywhere but can’t get these answers cleared up and if you can help me that would be GREAT!!! Ok so are hookah pens bad for you? Do they mess with your lungs or anything like cigarets do? Would they make you worse at a sport? Does it mess up your body? If I can get these questions answered that would BE FANTASTIC!! Iv been searching everywhere for answers but couldn’t find anything! PLEASE HELP! :(

  7. Im 16 years old and i have NEVER done any drugs (never thinking of doing any). I just wanted to know if these hookah pens will harm my body? Will it harm my lungs and/or heart? The ones without nicotine and tobacco are not harmful right? I wanted to try it but i don’t want it to harm my body. And i wanted to try one. Would it be okay to try it? Please help! And in the article it says that it will give me a habit of smoking something but i only want to try it once, to see how it is.

  8. Hi, my name is Blake and I’m a freshman in high school, all my friends smoke hookah pens and say it’s awesome. but I have asthma and am afraid of making it worse than it is, what should?

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