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Waterpipe smoking on college campuses may contribute to growing public health problem
Date:5/6/2008

RICHMOND, Va. (May 6, 2008) More and more U.S. college students are smoking tobacco using waterpipes or hookahs and its becoming a growing public health issue, according to a new study led by a Virginia Commonwealth University researcher.

The findings offer important insight into the prevalence and perceptions related to waterpipe tobacco smokers and are reported in the May issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health. The article is also featured in an editorial in the same issue.

These results should serve as an alarm bell to anyone interested in public health in the United States. Preventing tobacco-caused death and disease means remaining alert to new forms of tobacco smoking and then understanding the health risks of these new forms and communicating these risks to public health workers, policy makers, and to smokers themselves, said principal investigator Thomas Eissenberg, Ph.D., associate professor in the VCU Department of Psychology.

In a hookah, tobacco is heated by charcoal, and the resulting smoke is passed through a water-filled chamber, cooling the smoke before it reaches the smoker. Some waterpipe users perceive this method of smoking tobacco as less harmful and addictive than cigarette smoking.

According to Eissenberg, current and prospective waterpipe tobacco smokers should be made aware that waterpipe tobacco smoking is not as benign as they might think. Waterpipe and cigarette smoke contains some of the same toxins -- disease-causing tar and carbon monoxide, as well as dependence-producing nicotine. Additionally, the exposure to these toxins through waterpipe smoking may be greater due to longer periods of use.

Further, smokers take more and larger puffs with waterpipes, leading to inhalation of 100 times more smoke from a single waterpipe use episode relative to a single cigarette.

Through a cross-sectional study, approximately 744 students, mostly between the ages of 18 and 21, complet
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Contact: Sathy Achia Abraham
sbachia@vcu.edu
804-827-0890
Virginia Commonwealth University
Source:Eurekalert

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