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Unique Tobacco Products

Some tobacco products present special concerns for youth. Because they are sold in sweet flavors or pose as healthy or appealing alternatives to cigarettes, they are used primarily by younger smokers. Though these products often masquerade as safe, they aren’t – in fact, some are considered to be more harmful than cigarettes.

Kreteks and Bidis

Clove and other flavored cigarettes are used mostly by younger smokers. They are nearly ideal in design as a “trainer cigarette” and give youth another way to experiment with tobacco and get them addicted to nicotine. The false image of these products as clean, natural, and safer than conventional cigarettes attracts some young people who may otherwise not start smoking.

Hookahs (Water Pipes)

Hookah (narghile) smoking, which started in Asia and the Middle East, involves burning tobacco that has been mixed with flavors such as honey, molasses, or dried fruit in a water pipe and inhaling the flavored smoke through a long hose. Hookah smoking is usually a social event which allows conversation to take place among the smokers as they pass the pipe around. It has become popular in Western countries, especially among younger people in recent years.

Hookahs are marketed as being a safe alternative to cigarettes. This claim is false. The water does not filter out many of the toxins. In fact, hookah smoke has been shown to contain concentrations of toxins, such as carbon monoxide, nicotine, tar, and heavy metals, which are as high as or higher than that seen with cigarette smoke. Several types of cancer, including lung cancer, have been linked to hookah smoking. Hookah smoking is also linked to other unique risks not associated with cigarette smoking. For example, infectious diseases including tuberculosis (which can infect the lungs or other parts of the body), aspergillus (a fungus that can cause serious lung infections), and helicobacter (which can cause stomach ulcers) may be spread by pipe sharing or the uncontrolled, manual preparation of the tobacco used.

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