Ravenís Yellow Curtains.
A Letter from Raven K.-S. (raven[at]corax.com), sent March 20, 2007. This Citizen Obviously Wants to Share His Own† though Peculiar† Experience of Hookah Smoking
Dear Mr. [KC],
I recently read your critique of the WHO report concerning the smoking
of hookah pipes. As you might be aware of, articles condemning the use
of hookahs have become epidemic lately, all stating that hookah smoking
is equally dangerous, if not more, that cigarette smoking.
This collides heavily with my own experience. As I know nothing about
chemistry, I can only judge by what I see and notice myself.
I am a passionated hookah smoker for about seven or eight years now.
Before that I was a heavy cigarette smoker which already began to affect
my health in a worrying manner. However, that I did quit cigarettes in
favor of hookah was nothing but chance when I wasn't so fond of the
idea to quit smoking. My first hookah was bought as a decoration only,
then curiosity got the best of me and a couple of weeks later I had
completely changed to the hookah. When I was used to the hookah
I simply did not like cigarettes anymore.
Now when I read articles about the dangers of hookah smoking and how
it is even worse that cigarette smoking I can only shake my head.
Nicotine - doubtlessly present in shisha tobacco, it must be less than
in cigarettes since I well remember how hard the first two weeks of my
change from cigarettes to hookah have been. Back then it definetely
wasn't as much nicotine (?) as I was used to, and in spite of my
growing aversion against the stench of cigarettes I missed my regular
dosis of nicotine (or whatever).
Tar - what I cherished most with the hookah was the presumed absence
of tar. Or to speak from a house wife's point of view: there were no more
yellow curtains, no more yellow walls, the old yellowish 'nicotine layers'
(as they were commonly called) from cigarette smoking were gone.
(And I know what I'm talking about - I had an extremely hard time cleaning
up my complete apartement plus all my belongings once the cigarettes
were gone. It's unbelievable how much dirt cigarettes produce - the hookah
produces none of it)
Lastly - my health. My bronchitis started to get better within a year and
is completely gone now. Stomache problems are a thing of the past,
and my heart/blood circulation is quite normal today.
Those problems were contributed to my heavy cigarette smoking (I smoked
up to 25 cigarettes a day for about 18 years). The changes in my health
after the quit were dramatic and the doctors thought I had quit smoking
I didn't, I still smoke. I'm even a quite excessive smoker with about three
to five hookahs a day. A worst case example, so to say..
Were the alarmist reports about the dangers of hookah smoking true
how should I explain my own experience? As a wondrous miracle cure
that had nothing to do with my changed smoking habits at all? I cannot
Is my way of smoking hookah any special? I use natural charcoal only,
I don't use aluminium foil but metal screens for the bowl to keep the
charcoal at least 0,5 cm from the tobacco. As for tobacco I use molasses
tobacco i.e. tobamel. I'm a rather slow smoker as well - since I mostly
sit at the computer a pipe usually lasts about 90 minutes. Finally, I am
a notorious single smoker - if I have visitors willing to smoke a hookah
they will get one for themselves. This might be unusual but I am used
Please don't misunderstand me - I don't want a confirmation that hookah
smoking is harmless. Smoking is still smoking and nicotine is nicotine.
I for example don't have the slightest ambition to reduce my smoking which
is of course a kind of addiction as well. (Okay, I am not willing to reduce
my chocolate consumption either...)
But, I do see it as a preferrable alternative to cigarette smoking and I do
believe that a smoker who does not want to quit smoking at all would be
well advised to consider the change to the hookah. In my case it was
a very good decision, and even one that is nicer to all my non-smoking
friends since they do not have to tolerate the bad smell of cigarettes
The reports claiming that smoking hookah is as bad or even worse than
smoking cigarettes however sharply collide with my opinion and experience.
Even when considering a high amount of subjectivity on my side there is
a clear clash of my reality and their statements.
I lack any scientific knowledge to contradict those reports so all that is left
to me are doubts on their credibility and vague ideas of their intentions.
Were I fond of conspiracy theories I would likely presume those reports
were sponsored by the cigarette industry in order to prevent cigarette
smokers from flocking over to the bubbling rivals.
I'm sorry if this is getting far too long and most likely of no interest for
you. I understand that it is not desirable that hordes of teenagers start
smoking hookah - on the other hand what speaks against cigarette
smokers change to a clearly less fatal alternative? I cannot be such a
big exception, after all.
And lastly, maybe you know what exactly caused the yellow layers
when smoking cigarettes? It must be something present in cigarette
tobacco but not in hookah tobacco, so what is it?
With best regards,
[this document is published with authorís permission]