Hookahs on college campuses becoming growing public health issue..

May 9, 2008 - Hookahs on college campuses becoming growing public health issue.. Researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University have found that more and more U.S. college students are smoking tobacco using waterpipes (hookah, sheesha, shisha, narghile). The findings provide important insight into the prevalence and perceptions related to waterpipe tobacco smokers. In a cross-sectional study, approximately 744 students, mostly between the ages of 18 and 21, completed an Internet survey that included questions about demographics, tobacco use, risk perceptions and perceived social acceptability. Researchers found that approximately 43 percent of those surveyed had smoked tobacco using a waterpipe in the past year and 20 percent of them had smoked tobacco using a waterpipe in the past month. They also found that users were more likely to perceive waterpipes as less harmful than cigarettes as compared to those who had never used a waterpipe before. (Eissenberg, et al., Waterpipe Tobacco Smoking on a U.S. College Campus: Prevalence and Correlates, J Adolescent Health 42(5): 526-529, 2008)

Principal investigator Thomas Eissenberg, Ph.D. said that current and prospective waterpipe tobacco smokers should be made aware that the method is not as benign as they might think. Waterpipe and cigarette smoke contains some of the same toxins — disease-causing tar and carbon monoxide, as well as dependence-producing nicotine. Besides this, the exposure to these toxins through waterpipe smoking may be greater due to longer periods of use. Also, smokers take more and larger puffs with waterpipes, leading to inhalation of 100 times more smoke from a single waterpipe use episode relative to a single cigarette. Eissenberg concluded that, "prevention messages, especially those that communicate the potential risks of waterpipe tobacco smoking, should focus on college campuses.” Learn about college student Nabeel Sheikh who didn't want to smoke cigarettes but smoked hookah since the age of nine and that was a gateway to cigarettes. Some related news briefs: April 8, 2008, March 6, 2008, March 4, 2008, December 29, 2007, December 28, 2007, December 27, 2007, December 19, 2007, November 7, 2007 and October 25, 2007. Click on image to enlarge.. (TobaccoWatch.org)