Hookah Becoming Popular With US Youth

The hookah, generally associated with feudal India, is becoming evermore popular in the West. The water-pipe bars are becoming a regular haunt of the youth in north America, Canadian research suggests.

A group of scientists from the University of Montreal Hospital Research Center, Quebec set out “to identify the sociodemographic characteristics of water-pipe users in a North American context and to describe concurrent psychoactive substance use.”

Data on sociodemographic characteristics, water-pipe smoking, and use of other psychoactive substances were collected in 2007 through mailed self-report questionnaires completed by 871 young adults in the 18-24 age group. They were participating in the Nicotine Dependence in Teens Study, a longitudinal investigation of the natural history of nicotine dependence among adolescents in Montreal, Canada.

Previous-year water-pipe use was reported by 23% of participants. Most reported smoking known the water-pipe, (also known as shishas), only on rare occasions, but five per cent had used them one or more times in the past month.

Younger age, male gender, speaking English, not living with parents, and higher household income independently increased the odds of water-pipe use. Water-pipe use was markedly higher among participants who had smoked cigarettes, had used other tobacco products, had drunk alcohol, had engaged in binge drinking, had smoked marijuana, or had used other illicit drugs in the previous year, the researchers said in their article published in Pediatrics.

“The popularity of water pipes may be due in part to perceptions that they are safer than cigarettes,” warned senior investigator Jennifer O’Loughlin, a professor at the University of Montreal department of social and preventive medicine and a scientist at the University of Montreal Hospital Research Center.

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