E-Liquid Flavor Bans Force Vapers to Seek Alternatives

by Jul 12, 2022E-Cigarette News

We’re entering a new era for the American vaping industry – or at least, what’s left of it. The FDA has made its way through the majority of the premarket applications it has received from e-liquid makers. Virtually all of those applications have resulted in Marketing Denial Orders, effectively amounting to a ban on flavored e-liquid in the United States. Some e-liquid makers are suing the FDA for the right to remain on the market – and for now, vape juice with tobacco-free nicotine is also available. The shaky situation, however, has caused some flavor-loving vapers to seek an alternative that doesn’t involve returning to cigarette smoking. Many people have selected hookah smoking as that alternative, and you might end up making that same decision.

Is Flavored Hookah Tobacco Legal?

Is Flavored Hookah Tobacco Legal

Yes. Flavored hookah tobacco is legal because most flavored tobacco bans cover only cigarettes and e-liquids and have specific exceptions carved out for hookah tobacco because it has always been flavored. Unlike e-liquid makers, producers of hookah tobacco don’t need to file premarket applications for their products because those products were already on the market in 2007, which was the grandfather date set forth in the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009. Tobacco products that were already on the market in 2007 are allowed to remain. Therefore, the hookah industry is safe unless regulations change.

How Does Hookah Smoking Compare to Cigarette Smoking?

Although smoking a cigarette and using a hookah both involve the consumption of tobacco, they differ greatly from one another in some important ways. It’s helpful to understand those differences as you work to decide whether switching to a hookah is right for you.

  • A hookah session isn’t something that you do all day like vaping or smoking cigarettes. It takes a while to set a hookah up – and a smoking session might last an hour or more – so smoking a hookah is more of an event. It might be something that you do once a day or even once a week.
  • In a hookah, water filtration cools the smoke and enhances smoothness. While water filtration shouldn’t be taken as an enhancement to safety, it does tend to reduce the harshness of the smoke and can make smoking more pleasurable as a result.
  • Since you can connect multiple hoses to a hookah, hookah smoking is a much more social activity than other forms of tobacco use.
  • You’ll probably consume much more nicotine during a hookah session than you would smoking a cigarette. However, the fact that you’ll most likely use a hookah less often than you would smoke cigarettes may balance out the difference in nicotine content.

What Makes Hookah Tobacco Different from Cigarette Tobacco?

Hookah vs Smoking and Vaping

Cigarette tobacco and hookah tobacco are processed in very different ways. Cigarettes, for instance, aren’t just filled with shredded tobacco leaves. A significant portion of the “tobacco” in a cigarette actually consists of ground tobacco ribs and stems mixed with binders like pectin and formed into a sort of paper called reconstituted tobacco. Hookah tobacco is made only from the best parts of the leaves, although non-tobacco ingredients make up a major portion of the final mixture. We’ll explain more in a moment.

The fact that flavored cigarettes are no longer legal in the United States doesn’t actually mean that cigarette tobacco isn’t flavored. Quite the opposite, in fact – a cigarette can’t have “characterizing flavors,” so a company can’t make a cigarette that tastes like apple, peach or some other identifiable flavor. Tobacco companies can flavor cigarette tobacco as much as they like, though, as long as it still tastes like tobacco in the end. Some of the flavoring elements added to cigarette tobacco include apple extract, apricot extract, licorice, cocoa and plenty of sugar. One might conclude, in fact, that the additives in cigarettes exist primarily to mask the flavor of low-quality reconstituted tobacco.

In addition to the flavor of the tobacco, you’re also tasting burning paper when you smoke a cigarette.

Hookah tobacco begins its life as flue-cured tobacco – just like cigarette tobacco. From there, though, its path diverges. The bitter stems and ribs are stripped away, and the remaining leaves are cut into small pieces before being mixed with molasses or honey, flavoring agents and glycerin. The glycerin helps the tobacco to retain a moist, pliable texture. It’s also responsible for carrying the tobacco’s flavor and nicotine to your mouth.

In a sense, smoking a hookah has a bit of commonality with vaping because achieving combustion isn’t the goal. With proper heat management, most of what you inhale when smoking a hookah is glycerin vapor. If the tobacco combusts, it’s overheated. That’s not to say that hookah smoking is somehow safer than being a cigarette smoker, but it does impact the flavor quality a great deal. A properly tended hookah is significantly cooler, smoother and tastier than a cigarette.

How Does a Hookah Work?

How Does a Hookah Work

To get started with hookah smoking, you’ll need a hookah, a package of coals and some hookah tobacco. Regarding the tobacco, it doesn’t hurt to start out by buying a few different brands and flavors because that’ll help you figure out what your preferences are. If you’re not sure where to begin, you can’t go wrong with a major brand like Al Fakher.

As for the coals, you have two options: natural and quick light. Quick-light coals can be lit with a match or cigarette lighter, but they use chemical accelerants that can affect the flavor quality when you smoke. Natural coals don’t have accelerants, but the best way to light them is with a standalone coal burner.

You can find much more detailed instructions elsewhere, but here’s a summary of how hookah smoking works. As you can see, it’s a great deal more work than smoking a cigarette – but the effort involved in the hookah smoking ritual might play a major role in helping to ensure that you don’t overconsume.

  • Start by adding water to the base of the hookah. The water should rise to around an inch above the stem. If you overfill the base, you’ll end up sucking water through the hose – and if you underfill it, you won’t get the smoothness of water filtration.
  • Pack the tobacco into the hookah’s bowl. The tobacco should be evenly distributed around the bowl and should rise to a bit below the bowl’s rim. If you aren’t using a bowl with a funnel in the center, push a toothpick through the middle of the tobacco and rotate it to create an air channel.
  • Cover the bowl with a tight double layer of aluminum foil and poke several small holes in the foil.
  • Place your lit coals on the foil and puff gently on the mouthpiece to draw the smoke into your mouth.

In this article, we hope we’ve enlightened you about the interesting world of hookah smoking and introduced some of the possibilities that hookah tobacco could hold for you if the e-liquid flavors that you love become unavailable, and you don’t want to just go back to cigarette smoking. Preparing and smoking a hookah is a ritual that takes some time and effort – but at the same time, the effort involved can potentially play a role in ensuring that you can achieve your desired level of satisfaction without consuming more nicotine than you should.


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