Here’s a question that you probably won’t hear in many a strip joint, and that’s what makes this question so relevant: “

What is hookah tobacco?”

Well, at least that’s what I’ve been told. Hookah tobacco is almost always described as cigar tobacco wrapped in a small cigar wrapper. Hookah tobacco comes in several varieties. American is the most common, but it is also Egyptian and Lebanese. The only difference between the two is that Egyptian has been rolled, the Oriental roll being finer and a lighter wrapper, with its more robust taste, and the exotic Lazzari style, popular in Lebanon.
Hookah tobacco is rolled in filters, using tobacco and filler that is often ground and blended together. Most usually the tobacco is flavored, either with anise or sesame, or honey. The flavors used on hookah tobacco are most often derived from flavoring oils, scents, or spices, some flavorings being toxic or licit, depending on the country of origin. This is true for, for example, Spanish flies, as well as deadly combinations like menthol and sugar.
Hookah tobacco is most often snuffed through a bowl, pipe, or water pipe. However, because hookah tobacco and water pipe tobacco are essentially the same, some water pipes are designed specifically to hold and snuff hookah tobacco.
I have seen hookah tobacco-snuffed pipes, sometimes marketed as “water pipes.” You see, snuffing hookah tobacco comes with the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning, so some hookah tobacco-snuffing water pipes are designed to contain the fumes.
Most hookah tobacco-snuffing pipes have a removable bowl, like a pipe, but sometimes the bowl has a wider opening, or more depressions, and is called a snuff bowl. The term is a play on “smoke bowl,” which refers to a water pipe, and an incorrect term for what it is, a snuff bowl. Hookah tobacco was developed for use in Arab and Turkish palaces but has found its way into the American strip clubs as well as the gentlemen’s clubs.
Hookah tobacco is not only smoked, it is also snuffed. This is done by holding the mouthpiece of the pipe to your mouth and puffing smoke through the pipe to a hose that is connected to the mouthpiece. Snuffing requires that the lips and cheeks be kept well-cleaned, which does take a bit of practice and cleaning.
As you know, when you puff smoke through a hookah, it goes on for a longer period of time than the amount of time needed for lighting a cigarette. It takes a full eight seconds to snuff a hookah cigarette, but it is possible to snuff a bowl of tobacco down to three seconds. Snuffing is a very different kind of tobacco smoking experience, and the smoke is much thicker and longer lasting. Hookah tobacco produces a more flavorful and intense smoke.
The proper etiquette for smoking hookah tobacco is similar to smoking a pipe or cigarette, although some practices may be different. Firstly, the smoking room should be cool and comfortable, and you should dress warmly if possible, especially when eating because the smoke is so thick.
Once inside, the smoking room should have an ashtray with fresh tobacco, several lighter fluid cans, and a variety of butt tobacco. Some types of butt tobacco have to be inhaled so that you get a good “touch” of the smoke. So, do not just take a little bit of the tobacco, if you are going to inhale, take several drags, and then let go, to keep the flavor, but let it breathe.
Drinks should also be provided for anyone interested in relaxing after smoking. Hookah smoking rooms should have sofas and comfortable chairs. One of the goals is for the smoke to dissipate, but there should be no reason not to enjoy a good snack.
There is a big difference between hookah smoking and snuffing tobacco, because of the nicotine content, which is usually higher than in cigarettes. I have been told that snuffing hookah tobacco produces stronger and more powerful nicotine high than most other tobacco products.
Snuffing tobacco has been banned in some cities, so if you are in a city that has a smoking ban, be sure to wear a mask when you are snuffing, to avoid getting the tobacco in your mouth. I recommend that you wear a special protective cloth, like a face mask, when you are snuffing.
Snuffing tobacco has a higher nicotine content than most cigarettes. It is therefore illegal to buy snuff tobacco over the counter or from stores, and smoking tobacco must be purchased from a licensed tobacco distributor.
More and more cities in the U.S. are considering a smoking ban in indoor public places, including restaurants and even bars, and as hookah smoking increases in popularity, there will probably be more laws passed to regulate the use of hookah tobacco.
Do not smoke hookah tobacco in non-smoking locations, especially in public places. It is important to remember that you do not always know where the person next to you is from. Some hookah smokers enjoy taking huge puffs at a time. This would not be appropriate in public or in certain other settings.
It is also important to realize that there are specific requirements for operating a hookah tobacco business. The Health Department, in most cities, is responsible for regulating hookah tobacco establishments. If your business is located in a city or area where there is a Hookah-only law, it may be wise to check with the Health Department to make sure that you are in compliance.
Another item to watch out for is phony hookah cafes. Some owners who intend to operate these businesses will buy hookah tobacco from other hookah tobacco vendors, and then mix it with other cheap and nasty-looking stuff, and when they try to sell the stuff to hookah cafes, they simply cheat customers. This can be avoided by purchasing from legitimate hookah tobacco vendors.