Hookah use common among college students

April 6th, 2011 - 3:07 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, April 6 (ANI): Hookah smoking by young adults is popular despite a potentially negative effect on their health, a new study has found.

Hookah bars are cropping up everywhere - from chic downtown cafes to locations near college campuses, where they’ve found a loyal customer base in young adults.

A hookah, or water pipe, is a single or multi-stemmed smoking instrument, often made of glass, consisting of a smoke chamber, a bowl, a pipe and a hose. The instrument uses charcoal to heat specially made tobacco that has been soaked in molasses or honey and is highly flavored.

Most hookah cafes offer a wide variety of flavorings on their menu - everything from chocolate to bubble gum, mango to jasmine, mint to rose petals.

“The popularity of hookah smoking among young adults is quite alarming given the potential for negative health effects,” said lead author Erin L. Sutfin, an assistant professor at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

“Unfortunately, many young adults are misinformed about the safety of hookah smoking and some mistakenly believe it to be safer than cigarette smoking,” she said.

For their study, researchers sent a web-based survey to a random sample of students from eight North Carolina colleges and universities asking about smoking patterns, drug habits, and the students’ knowledge about these activities.

They found that 40.3 percent - more than one-third of the students surveyed - reported having ever smoked tobacco from a hookah, while only a slightly higher percentage (46.6) reported having ever smoked a cigarette.

Nearly 25 percent of students reported being current smokers of cigarettes, and 17.4 percent said they actively use hookahs.

The survey results showed that freshmen and males were more likely to use hookahs, and that there was an association between those individuals who used hookahs and those who smoked cigarettes, smoked marijuana, had a history of other illegal drug use, and had drank alcohol in the 30 days prior to the survey.

It was also clear from the results that hookah users, in general, shared a mistaken perception that somehow smoking from a hookah was less harmful than smoking a cigarette.

The study appeared online in Drug and Alcohol Dependence. (ANI)

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