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Hookah more popular with young adults, possibly more dangerous than cigarettes

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by Madeline Montgomery

Myrtle Beach, S.C. (WPDE) — Hookah comes in all shapes, sizes and flavors and is appealing to more young smokers because they think it is healthier than cigarettes.

"From pumpkin pie to cherry or whatever you'd be," said Seth Merson, a sales representative at The Smokehouse.

A study in the British Medical Journal shows more than half of young American smokers are smoking hookah.

"Hookah is a tobacco but it's saturated in flavor. So that's why it's a moist tobacco," said Merson.

Merson says he is seeing more people coming in to smoke and buy hookah.

"Hookah has actually picked up here recently a lot," said Merson.

We asked, why is hookah so popular now?

"They've realized that it is, it seems to be, a way better alternative to smoking cigarettes," said Merson.

But it is not, according to doctor Dennis Rhoades.

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"It doesn't matter whether you flavor it with, orange or lemon or whatever type of flavors you put in, you're still getting a nicotine. A flavored nicotine," said Rhoades.

He says he sees more patients saying they smoke it because they think it's not as bad as cigarettes.

"You're still getting nicotine, you're still getting carcinogens that are in all of those substances," said Rhoades.

He says hookah can actually be worse for you because people smoke it for longer periods of time.

"It's more of a relaxing break than just being able to step to the side and smoke a cigarette or something," said Merson.

"You'll smoke one cigarette and then you're done. When people are smoking on a hookah, people will smoke anywhere from a half hour to an hour. And in that hour's time, you'll get the equivalence from 100 to 200 cigarettes," said Rhoades.

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