Indexed on: 01 Mar '11Published on: 01 Mar '11Published in: Drug and Alcohol Dependence
Known most commonly in the U.S. as "hookah," waterpipe tobacco smoking appears to be growing among college students. Despite beliefs that waterpipe use is safer than cigarette smoking, research to date (albeit limited) has found health risks of waterpipe smoking are similar to those associated with cigarette smoking, including lung cancer, respiratory illness, and periodontal disease. The goals of this study were to estimate the prevalence of use among a large, multi-institution sample of college students and identify correlates of waterpipe use, including other health-risk behaviors (i.e., cigarette smoking, alcohol, marijuana, and other illicit drug use) and availability of commercial waterpipe tobacco smoking venues.A cross-sectional sample of 3770 college students from eight universities in North Carolina completed a web-based survey in fall 2008.Forty percent of the sample reported ever having smoked tobacco from a waterpipe, and 17% reported current (past 30-day) waterpipe tobacco smoking. Correlates associated with current waterpipe use included demographic factors (male gender, freshman class); other health-risk behaviors (daily and nondaily cigarette smoking, alcohol use, marijuana use, other illicit drug use); perceiving waterpipe tobacco smoking as less harmful than regular cigarettes; and having a commercial waterpipe venue near campus.The results highlight the popularity of waterpipe tobacco smoking among college students and underscore the need for more research to assess the public health implications of this growing trend.