Arts, Culture & Media

Name a largely Arab American city where hookah smoking is on the rise

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For centuries, smoking hookah, also known as hubbly bubbly, waterpipe, or shisha, has been a popular pastime in many parts of the world.

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In the 18th century, a British expat in Calcutta (now Kolkata), India wrote: "Here everybody uses a hookah, and it is impossible to get on without. I've frequently heard men declare they would much rather be deprived of their dinner than their hookah."

The word hookah is said to come from an Arabic word and not surprisingly hookah smoking is a daily custom today in Egypt, Iran, Lebanon, Libya, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, and Morocco to name a few places.

These countries are also 'countries of origin' for many Arab Americans according to the Arab American Institute.

So it's not surprising that the culture of hookah smoking is increasingly popular among Arab American teenagers who seem to have adopted the custom from their immigrant parents.

It's especially true in the American city with our largest Arab-American community. This city — that we want you to name — is just southwest of the largest city on the US - Canada border, a city which also happens to be bankrupt.

Can you name the American city with the largest Arab American community?

The answer is Dearborn, a suburb of Detroit where Arab Americans comprise roughly 40 percent of the population.

And in that large Arab American community, health officials say teen smoking is on the rise.

That's despite all the warnings about tobacco and lung cancer. But it's not cigarettes luring young smokers there.

It's the hookah or shisha -- the kind of water pipe popular throughout the Middle East.

In this podcast, The World's host Marco Werman speaks with Dr. Basim Dubaybo, associate chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine at Wayne State University's School of Medicine. He says you don't have to look far to see the problem.

"If you come to Michigan and drive along Warren Street in Dearborn, you're going to find multiple hookah lounges that did not exist several years ago," he says. "If you go outside Dearborn, Dearborn being the area of Detroit metro where most of the Middle Easterners live, you will find hookah lounges sprouting up all over the place." (Read more here.)

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