Hookah Bar Secondhand Smoke May be Hazardous to Workers

First Posted: Jan 25, 2016 11:40 AM EST

It turns out that secondhand smoke may be hazardous to hookah bar workers. Researchers have taken a closer look at the effects of secondhand hookah smoke on hookah bar workers and have found that it may have negative impacts on their health.

In this latest study, the researchers examined ten hookah bar employees. The researchers tested them after they left their shifts and found that the employees had elevated levels of toxins and identifiable markers of inflammation that are linked to airway and heart diseases. In fact, some of those tested had results akin to those seen in heavy cigarette smokers; this result, in particular, is ironic since many young people see hookah pipe smoking as "safe" in comparison to cigarettes.

"Hookah use is often exempt from clean indoor air laws that protect people from secondhand smoke," said Terry Gordon, the senior author of the new study, in a news release. "Ours is the first study that links poor hookah bar air quality to damaging effects in workers, and the results recommend closer monitoring of this industry to protect the public."

Secondhand smoke exposure is the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States, responsible for 3,000 lung cancer deaths and 35,000 heart disease deaths annually among Americans that have never smoked. Beyond health consequences, though, the new study identified airborne nicotine in the four hookah bars surveyed even though tobacco-based shisha was banned in the venues.

"Our findings challenge the belief that secondhand exposure to hookah smoke is safe," said Gordon. "We hope that our paper leads to larger studies of indoor air quality and regulations that protect workers and patrons."

The findings are published in the journal Tobacco Control.

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