Study reveals one in five high school seniors have tried hookah

Cigarette smoking appears to be on the decline among youth in the U.S., but it appears as though the demographic may be substituting cigarettes with another substance.

According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), young people are starting to use alternatives to cigarettes, including hookah, cigars, and other smokeless products.

Hookahs are water pipes that people use to smoke tobacco alternatives that come in a variety of flavors, including liqorice, watermelon, mint or cherry, to name a few. According to the CDC, smoking hookah has many of the same medical risks as cigarette smoking, despite contrary belief.

A team of NYU researchers, who are affiliated with New York University’s Center for Drug Use and HIV Research (CDUHR), identified just how prevalent these ethnically-associated tobacco product alternatives are among high school seniors in the U.S.

The study involved a nation-wide survey that identified the behaviors and attitudes of high school seniors in the U.S. The data, taken from Monitoring the Future (MTF) and published under the study name, “Hookah Use Among U.S. High School Seniors,” was gathered from about 130 schools throughout the U.S. After careful analyzation, the study’s colleagues discovered that approximately one in five high school seniors in the U.S. reported using hookah over the past 12 months.

Joseph J. Palamar, PhD, MPH, a CDUHR affiliated researcher and an assistant professor of Population Health at NYU Langone Medical Center (NYULMC) says that hookah use appears to be much more prevalent among students in the higher socio-economic status demographic.

“Surprisingly, students with more educated parents or higher personal income are at high risk for use. We also found that hookah use is more common in cities, especially big cities. So hookah use is much different from cigarette use, which is more common in non-urban areas,” said Palamar in a statement.

The researchers state that the stigma linked to cigarette smoking is likely to have played a key role in the decline of cigarette smoking, which has led youth to alternative forms of tobacco use, including hookah.