'E-Hookah' Debuts in San Diego Amid Critics

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The "next generation of e-cigarettes" has just hit the online market and is now being featured at a downtown San Diego business. The company, BLOW, known for its e-cig products, is now making electronic hookahs -- but the product is not without controversy. NBC 7's Candice Nguyen reports.

    The "next generation of e-cigarettes" has just hit the online market and is now being featured at a downtown San Diego business. The company, BLOW, known for its e-cig products, is now making electronic hookahs.

    Unlike traditional hookahs, the makers say the e-hookah utilizes a smoke, tar and toxin-free liquid in a flameless, charcoal-free device. BLOW Co-founder Fritz Graf hopes it becomes the next big thing to hit the already rapidly expanding vaping industry.

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    "Really, what we took was the technology of a little e-cig and turned it into this big glorious hookah," he said.

    Medical experts like Dr. Ted Mazer, who is the speaker for the California Medical Association House of Delegates, are still very concerned about possible health risks.

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    “So when kids start smoking hookahs instead of e-cigs, they're going to become nicotine addicted, which is a great long-term sales pitch much like we know in the history of cigarettes,” he said.

    Currently, the Food and Drug Administration is not regulating any non-medical e-cigarette product, let alone e-hookah product. A FDA representative gave this statement:

    “The FDA intends to propose a regulation that would extend the agency’s “tobacco product” authorities -- which currently only apply to cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco, and smokeless tobacco -- to other categories of tobacco products that meet the statutory definition of “tobacco product.” Further research is needed to assess the potential public health benefits and risks of electronic cigarettes and other novel tobacco products.”

    The inventor of BLOW e-hookah claims, other than nicotine, the liquid used only consists of natural citrus extract and vegetable glycerin. We asked Graf if he knew of any possible dangers  of inhaling glycerin.

    “All I do know is if you look at glycerin, it’s is in almost everything we eat, even baby food. … [This product] took a year of research and development, like 15 prototypes to perfect every little component in it,” he said.

    Many health experts are also concerned about the marketing of these products. According to a Center of Disease Control Study, the number of children in middle and high school who are vaping has doubled.

    “E-cigs may be playing a role in that. They're playing a role because now it's cool to put something in your mouth and smoke it or vape it,” said Dr. Mazer.

    “People are just going to have to make their own assumptions,” said Graf.

    Graf says they'll display their product at a local nightclub convention in the coming months. That's when they'll officially launch the e-hookah. He says he's already getting requests from around the world.

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