I don't smoke cigarettes. I do sometimes have a bowl with a friend of mine out of his hookah though. I'd say in all honesty if you don't sit there and smoke it every day you'll be ok. the tobacco is the same as you'd find in a pipe so it's not got all of the nasty additives that cigarettes do. I've never once found myself craving or anything of that sort after having a hookah sesh. Treat it as a recreational thing like the odd beer is the way I look at it and I've been fine so far. Although I'm only having a 1/2 bowl maybe once every week week and a half and it's a social thing.
On the charcoal myself and my buddy use quicklights brickettes in the hookah and can't taste any chemical taste. we usually smoke either cherry or double apple flavor molasses tobacco. lol you don't even think about the fact you're smoking though since they are very smooth. very very tasty (you actually taste what they are flavored like) and they don't make me cough or gag or anything else like a certain other substance (I'm sure you know what I'm referring to) can sometimes do.