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New smoking trends worry healthcare professionals | Here's why

"All tobacco products have risks," said Dr. Reddy. "The healthiest thing you can do is quit all tobacco products."

It's the same restaurant, but slightly different atmosphere.

"When we first started we were opening a bar, a secret hideout for people to go and behave badly. So of course we offered smoking as an option," said The Vortex co-owner Micheal Beniot.

For the last 27 years he's owned and operated The Vortex restaurants in Atlanta along with his siblings. They started out with a fully smoking staff and clientele but times have changed.

"We noticed that there were fewer of our customers utilizing the option to smoke at our bar, and in fact, many of our customers, when they would smoke they would step outside because that has become standard I guess nowadays," said Benoit.

So The Vortex put their smoking policy to an online vote and found people said they loved the spot, but would come more if there was no smoking.

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It's a trend health care professionals like 11Alive Medical Correspondent Dr. Sujatha Reddy have tracked and cheered, but the emergence of electronic cigarettes and other ways to smoke, has many concerned that the newer trends - mistakenly thought of as safE - could lead young people back to cigarettes.

"All tobacco products have risks," said Dr. Reddy. "The healthiest thing you can do is quit all tobacco products."

The Centers for Disease Control, or CDC, says hookahs contain toxic agents found to cause various types of cancer and heart disease.

Compared to smoking, the CDC says they have many of the same health risks. The addictive nicotine is still there and because of the way hookah is used, smokers may absorb more of the toxins found in cigarettes than those who smoke cigarettes. Think of 200 puffs during an hour-long hookah session, versus 20 puff on the average cigarette.

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The CDC says e-cigarettes have fewer toxins than traditional cigarettes, but still have dangers, including nicotine, heavy metals like lead and cancer-causing agents. There have also been reports of explosions and fires related to the devices.

Right now, reviews are mixed on using e-cigarettes to quit smoking traditional cigarettes, but Dr. Reddy says there can be a  possible benefit.

"If they help you get rid of all tobacco in your life then it's a positive," she said.

At The Vortex, customers are seeing the plus side of a smoke-free environment, and Benoit has noticed more people dining in, especially during lunch. He believes customers who might have wanted to avoid returning to work smelling like smoke, are returning or trying out the restaurant.

"People still like to be bad," said Benoit. "Our motto is 'everything we offer is bad for you, but let's leave it at burgers and fried food and not the smoking.'"


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