Hookah use is increasing dramatically among U.S. teens, and a new study in the August 2014 Pediatrics identifies how prevalent this habit is and which teens are most likely to be participating.
The study, "Hookah Use Among U.S. High School Seniors," published online July 7, found the annual prevalence of hookah use was 18 percent, based on a national survey of 5,540 high school seniors.
Students who smoked
cigarettes, and those who had ever used
marijuana or other illicit substances were more likely to use hookah. Researchers also found socioeconomic differences; students whose parents had higher levels of education, and those with higher incomes were more likely to use hookah. Unexpectedly, lower socioeconomic status and lower parental education – well-known risk factors for cigarette use -- were associated with lower rates of hookah use.
A common belief among adolescents and young adults is that hookah use is less harmful and addictive than cigarettes, which may lead to the social normalization of hookah use as an acceptable way to have fun with friends.
Researchers conclude it is crucial for educators and public health officials to fill in the gaps in public understanding about the harm of hookah smoking.