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Hookahs an Unhealthy Hit Among Privileged Young Adults
Date:5/10/2010

Number of users nearly tripled in one year, study finds

MONDAY, May 10 (HealthDay News) -- Smoking tobacco with a water pipe is gaining popularity in western countries, and those most likely to indulge are privileged young men who live apart from their parents, a new study finds.

Young adults in Montreal who use water pipes, or hookahs, are typically 18- to 20-year-old, English-speaking males who live away from their parents and have a higher household income than non-users, University of Montreal researchers report. Water pipe smokers are also more likely to use other psychoactive drugs, such as marijuana, the study found.

"These are young men who are living away from home for the first time and who have disposable cash, and so they have lots of freedom and leisure time to try out new things," said study co-author Jennifer O'Loughlin, a professor in the department of social and preventive medicine.

Hookah bars are cropping up in U.S. and Canadian cities and college towns, where young people often gather to smoke sweetened, flavored tobacco, she added. "With the increasing restrictions on tobacco use in public places, I'm afraid that young adults wanting to smoke in social situations may be choosing hookah bars," said O'Loughlin.

For their study, published online May 10 in the journal Pediatrics, the researchers analyzed questionnaires filled out by 871 people aged 18 to 24 in 2007. According to the study, 23 percent of those surveyed had used a hookah during the previous year, which was almost three times the number identified in a similar survey conducted just the year before.

Wasim Maziak, an associate professor at the University of Memphis School of Public Health who studies water pipes in the United States and the Middle East, said these findings are consistent with a review of the literature that he and his colleagues recently published in the American Journal of Health Behavior<
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