Dec 092007
 
Authors: Heidi Reitmeier

With the increasing popularity of hookah among college students, two CSU students have taken the opportunity to open shop.

Long-time friends and business partners, Aria Khosravi and Allen Blue, monopolized on this current trend to open up their own hookah bar, Narghile Nights, located on College Avenue just north of the Garment District.

Khosravi, a senior speech communications major, opened Narghile Nights two years ago in part to assuage the unfavorable stigma so often attached to his Middle Eastern heritage.

“Arabic students come in and dance and interact with the American students,” said Khosravi. “It’s a fun thing to do, and hopefully it will turn the negative stereotype around.”

Along with reversing the stereotype, Khosravi said Narghile Nights and hookah smoking gives students a unique cultural experience.

“It’s something different to do,” he said.

And while hookah bars are becoming more socially acceptable among college-aged adults, health experts are increasingly concerned about the health risks associated with smoking.

“I don’t think that it’s healthy, but it’s not addictive like cigarettes,” said Vida Houck, a junior social work major. “They don’t market/target people to get them addicted like cigarettes, so I don’t see it as bad in that regard.”

Although limited research has been done on the health risks of smoking hookah, links have been made to the same health risks associated with cigarette smoking, according to the American Health Association.

Preliminary studies done in 2005 by the Whole Health Organization have shown that “using a waterpipe/hookah to smoke tobacco poses serious health hazard to smokers and others exposed to the smoke emitted. and sharing a waterpipe mouthpiece poses a serious risk of transmission of communicable diseases, including tuberculosis and hepatitis.”

And that’s enough for some health conscious students.

“When I found out that hookah was more detrimental than cigarettes, I stopped smoking it,” said Sarah Walker, a junior economics major.

The Hartshorn Health Center’s health educator, Gwen Sieving, says students should make up their own mind about hookah.

“At the health center, it’s not about telling a student smoking hookah is right or wrong, it’s about letting them know the information so he/she can decide for themselves,” Sieving said.

Although more students are aware of the health risks, patronage of hookah bars has increased in the past five years. Khosravi has noticed an increase in attendance at Narghile Nights since it opened two years ago. In fact, there is an estimated 200-300 hookah bars currently open in the United States, with two located in Fort Collins.

For many students, a place to relax, be with good company and spend minimal amounts of money is exactly what the doctor ordered, even if their physician says otherwise.

“Before, all students could do was go to bars, the movie theatre or to parties,” Khosravi said.

Staff writer Heidi Reitmeier can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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