Electronic hookahs 'harmful to lungs'

A prominent anti-smoking activist yesterday warned new smokers and young people to avoid using the electronic barakus or hookahs that are fast becoming popular among students, saying the fruit-flavoured liquids used in the devices were dangerous to the respiratory system.

Professor Dr Prakit Vathesatogkit, secretary-general of the Action on Smoking and Health Foundation Thailand, said vendors who sold electronic baraku devices without a licence faced a Bt20,000 fine.

"[Teenage] smokers will only be wasting money and health if they buy these devices," he added.

"As a pulmonologist, I confirm that this liquid aromatic substance is an alien element and can be harmful to the lungs and bad for health," he said. Pulmonology is concerned with disease of the respiratory tract.

As to the vendors' claim that these aromatic devices are not addictive, Prakit said there were no official studies to confirm this.

Electronic hookah devices are becoming popular among school and university students, because of their alleged non-addictive nature and fruit flavours. Schools in Bangkok and major provinces have also been having a tough time curbing students' widespread use of electronic cigarettes for several years.

Prakit advised electronic-hookah smokers to disassemble the device and sniff the compartment containing the aromatic liquid.

"Once you do that, you will stop smoking the electronic baraku," he said.