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Sorry L.A. Hookah Hipster: That Pipe is Dirty, and Could be Bad for Your Health

Stay back, Charlie Sheen: It's hook-ah.
Stay back, Charlie Sheen: It's hook-ah.

Hookahs are everywhere in L.A., second only, perhaps, to the city's ubiquitous pot shops. (Maybe people are practicing).

There's Ali Mama Cafe in Silver Lake and Up In Smoke Hookah Lounge in Sherman Oaks. They're not hard to find.

One of the allures of the hookah (besides practice) is that it's often marketed as a safe alternative to smoking.

But if you've been hitting the hookah, you've probably been a dirty girl:

According to Lance Armstrong's Livestrong, Hookah smoking exposes users to more smoke and more nicotine -- as a result of longer sessions -- than what the average cigarette customer sees.

The smoke is cooled and slightly filtered by water, so hookah fans think they're getting a cleaner draw, but it turns out the bong-like effects could mask more health risks:

"Because hookah smokers are exposed to higher amounts of carcinogens and chemicals, their risks of developing cancer, respiratory disease and heart disease may even be higher than those of cigarette smokers."

But here's the gross part: The sharing of the hookah mouthpiece isn't exactly hygienic, and smokers could even get herpes:

"Smokers who share the mouthpiece on a hookah pipe risk catching a contagious disease from one another. The contagious disease can be a simple cold or flu virus or it can be something more serious, such as herpes."

Now pass the, eh, sanitizer.