Not just blowing smoke: Hookahs a popular pastime

A Middle Eastern tradition has a growing number of users here in the Tri-States.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said college students are the biggest contingent of Hookah.

Justin Crouch has been using a hookah for a few years now and he thinks this is the smoothest way for him to smoke.

"The hookah experience is more of a relaxed, ritualistic experience," he said. "You get a group of friends together, sit down, chill, listen to some quiet music, talk, that sort of thing."

He has smoked cigarettes before, but thinks using a hookah offers a better social experience as well.

"I never liked the taste of cigarettes, anything like that so I never got into smoking cigarettes as much," he said.

Hookah's can cost anywhere from $20 to hundreds of dollars.

Crouch makes his own shisha, the flavored tobacco smoked in hookahs.

He thinks some in the Quincy community aren't aware of what a hookah is.

"Most people from what I know have a very social stigma to what hookah is, thinking it's illegal or related to opium or marijuana," he said. "People come up to me if I'm out buying it or looking at stuff. Even tobacco shop owners will ask me continuous questions just about how to set it up all that stuff, because even they don't even know too much about it."

Center For Disease Control says that hookah smokers may absorb higher concentrations of the toxins found in cigarette smoke.

The CDC reports that smoking hookah is not a safe alternative to cigarettes.

Crouch is aware of the dangers of smoking.

"Obviously it's a form of tobacco so it can cause health concerns, stuff like that. Before you start it, you need to be aware of those and stuff, know what you're getting into."