By Donna McCollum - email
NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - A deep drag on a water pipe or hookah, inhaling flavored tobaccos, or shisha, is how young adults are chilling out.
"It gives you a soothing calming effect," bar partner Casey Roe explained. "What happens is you put coals on top and when you pull through tubes the air goes through a pipe going into water and it goes into your lungs and you smoke it."
Justin Knight was introduced to hookah bars during his military service in Afghanistan. It's been a practice in the Middle East for centuries.
"It's kinda hole in the wall places," Knight said. "You walk in, sit down, you smoke your tobacco and you leave. Over there, they give massages."
Here in the U.S., hookah bars are puffing along in hundreds of college towns. These guys are opening up the Hott Spot across from the SFA campus.
"We're thinking 12-15 dollars to rent the hookah," bar partner Joshua Norris said. "We got some cheaper shish, the tobacco. And we've got more expensive. We're going to have a flavor of the day."
"We've got all kinds," Knight said. "Grape, lemon, citrus. I think here is banana."
Their business proposal left city officials smoking as the business dodged a newly adopted no smoking.
"They want to say we can do the same kind of thing a tobacco store sales because that's what the ordinance stated for," Norris said. "That's the reason 51% of the sales has to be tobacco in order to smoke in the building, so we're just going that route."
The guys say they want to provide an alternative.
"Something to do in Nacogdoches besides going to the bars and clubs," Roe said.
While at the same time striking it rich, or at least earning enough to pay college expenses.
Hookah users claim the water pipe filters all the carcinogens out of the tobacco.
That kind of talk leaves health advocates fuming.
"The hazards are the same as cigarettes," said Linda Smith, a tobacco prevention advocate. "Your heart disease, your lung disease. They're more apt, if you're using a pipe, to have oral cancer, such as cancer of the esophagus, your lip, your tongue because you're inhaling everything."
According to the World Health Organization hookah smoking has the same toxic health effects as cigarette smoking. Studies show the smoke contains carbon monoxide, heavy metals and carcinogens and extremely high levels of nicotine.