Hookah Goes to College

Tobacco smoking is bad whether it is in a cigarette or a hookah

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Nearly a quarter of college freshman girls smoke hookahs. Alcohol and marijuana use were common predictors of hookah smoking, as well.

A recent study found that hookah usage has become a public health concern. Prevention and intervention efforts would need to target the drinking and pot smoking that go along with hookah smoking.

"Hookah smoking is no less dangerous than cigarettes!"

Robyn L. Fielder, MS, research intern at The Miriam Hospital’s Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine, did a study on the rates of hookah smoking for female college freshman.

For the study, 483 female college freshman provided information about their hookah usage.

Each woman was assessed for their precollege hookah use and then surveyed again every month for 12 months.

Only 23 percent used a hookah for the first time in their freshman year of college.

Factors that were common in those who did use a hookah were alcohol use, having an impulsive nature, having the desire to fit in and smoking marijuana. Alcohol and marijuana use were the strongest predictors.

Authors conclude that based on the other factors listed that tie in with hookah use, hookah prevention and intervention efforts will need to take into account other forms of substance abuse too.

Hookah use by college kids has increased greatly over the last two decades.

Some of the students surveyed claimed they didn’t believe smoking a hookah to be as bad as smoking cigarettes. Yet hookah smoking can expose the user to higher levels of nicotine than cigarettes.

Fielder said, “The popularity and social nature of hookah smoking, combined with the fact that college freshmen are more likely to experiment with risky behavior, could set the stage for a potential public health issue, given what we know about the health risks of hookah smoking.”

Hookah smoking exposes users to carbon monoxide and can cause the same kinds of health problems as cigarette smoking, such as lung cancer, mouth cancers and respiratory illness.

Fielder said, “Youth tend to overestimate the extent to which their peers use substances, and because it’s important to fit in with one’s peers, this can lead to greater risk-taking.”

“Our research suggests prevention and intervention efforts should jointly target all substance use, including hookah, alcohol, marijuana and cigarettes, to optimize the public health impact.”

This study was published in the May issue of Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. This study was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and no conflicts of interest were found.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
July 30, 2012
Last Updated:
April 11, 2013