Hookah Hoopla

The opening of a new lounge brings hookahs to BR

Hookah Lounge: Pictured above is a collection of hookah pipes at Cleopatra’s Lounge, the new hookah lounge in downtown Big Rapids. They offer many flavors, including fuzzy navel and watermelon. Photo By: Kate Dupon | Photographer
The recent opening of Cleopatra’s Lounge on Northland Drive is spreading a craze on campus: smoking hookah.

The hookah is a growing fad on campuses across the nation. Many students are eager to try the hundreds of different flavors of hookah available.

This social pastime goes back hundreds of years. According to Dr. Robert Friar, FSU biology professor, about 400 years ago, physicians in India noticed that people who smoked tobacco were having more health problems and the physicians invented the hookah pipe, or water pipe, hoping it would reduce the harmful effects of smoking by filtering the smoke through water. From India, the hookah pipe spread to Middle Eastern countries and to other parts of the world.

Mola Xiong, server at Cleopatra’s Lounge since its opening in March, said the hookah’s popularity and business have been growing steadily.

“We’ve definitely seen an increase in hookah usage and we’re seeing new customer faces all the time,” said Xiong.

Cleopatra’s Lounge sets up the hookah for the customer and offers over 40 different exotic flavors.

“Our three most popular flavors are probably orange, fuzzy navel, and two apples,” said Xiong. “For first-timers, I would recommend orange; you can mix and match any two flavors, as well.”

Joel VanNorman, sophomore at FSU, believes smoking hookah is a fun pastime.

“An Arabic friend of mine from my hometown made me interested in it,” said VanNorman. “I love smoking hookah because, for one thing, it’s just fun, secondly it’s another reason to hang with your friends, and thirdly it’s intriguing. My favorite flavor is watermelon.”

However, smoking hookah poses health concerns.

“To this day, many people believe that it is safer to use the hookah pipe than to use cigarettes as the ‘drug delivery’ system for nicotine from tobacco,” said Dr. Friar. “Such is not the case.”

Friar explained that recent studies by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) indicate that there is actually greater harm from smoking using a hookah pipe than from using cigarettes.

“The reason is that the water does not filter out the toxic ingredients in tobacco smoke, as some people believe,” said Friar. “People who use the hookah pipe almost always inhale more tobacco smoke – they smoke longer and burn up more tobacco and thus get more nicotine, tar, and other dangerous chemicals and carcinogens than people who use cigarettes.”

Regardless of negative effects, smoking hookah is becoming an increasingly popular social pastime on campuses all across the nation. n