Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Researchers alarmed at rising hookah use among California youth

Exposure to smoke indoors is a health risk, experts say.
As more and more California residents between the ages of 18 and 24 take up the habit of smoking hookah, researchers worry about the health effects of this popular trend.

Hookah, a water pipe used for smoking flavored tobacco, is seen by many as a fun social activity, but the common belief that smoking hookah is less harmful than smoking cigarettes is misguided, experts say.

"This rise is particularly alarming because it's happening in California, a state that leads the nation in tobacco control," said Wael Al-Delaimy, MD, PhD, associate professor and chief of the Division of Global Health in the UCSD Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, in a public news release.

"While cigarette smoking has decreased nationwide and in California, reports of ever using hookah have increased, especially among adolescent and young adults."

While indoor smoking has been banned throughout California, hookah use is still permitted in in designated lounges.

Study results showed that from 2005 to 2008, hookah use among all adults increased by more than 40 percent; and by 2008, hookah use in California was much higher among young adults – 24.5 percent among men, 10 percent among women – than it was among all adults – 11.2 percent among men, 2.8 percent among women.

The habit was more common among non-Hispanic whites that had at least some college education.

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