It’s hard to believe that at the turn of the millennium, oxygen bars were all the rage. But today’s social trend amongst collegians is far more hazardous to a person’s health. Hookah has grown (no pun intended) in popularity over the past few years. A 2006 New York Times article first documented the trend as Middle Eastern restaurants found a niche consumer base in college students.

A 2009 survey done by the American College Health Association found that of college students who knew what hookah was, 24 percent agreed or strongly agreed that smoking hookah was less harmful than smoking cigarettes.

That may not seem like much, but it’s still easy to forget that when you smoke hookah, you are inhaling the same carcinogens even if the smell of the tobacco is masked by perfume.

What’s the appeal? Many hookah users tout the fact that it’s cheaper than bar-hopping, and you don’t have to wait until you’re 21.

There’s no hangover, and you can go out with your friends to a hookah bar even the night before a big exam. Also, unlike cigarettes, smoking flavored hookah doesn’t make you smell like an ashtray.

But if you’re thinking about taking your shiny new hookah pipe back to your dorm, you might want to think twice. It’s worth noting that it is still considered drug paraphernalia in the student handbook, even if it is only intended for tobacco.

“That is a George Mason policy,” says Mason University Police Sgt. David Ganley. “The law is that they are not drug paraphernalia. … Hookahs are allowed on campus, but I believe they are not in the housing area.”

Hookah pipes can be used in designated smoking areas on campus, but students cannot take them into their residential halls.

“There would be no reason for a student to have a hookah pipe in their dorm,” said Michelle Coleman, assistant director of community standards at the Office of Housing and Residence Life, “since smoking is banned from residential halls.”

However, students who are smokers are still allowed to keep their cigarettes in their dorms. It seems that the lonely hookah pipe is much-maligned from its history as an exotic delivery system for marijuana.