Hookah smoking, which is heavily marketed to young adults in the States, is the only form of tobacco use that is not regulated and its exemption from clean indoor air legislation, such as the California Clean Air Act, is contributing to its rapidly growing popularity. In California alone, there are more than 2,000 shops that sell hookah tobacco and related products, in addition to 175 hookah lounges and cafes, and a disproportionate number of them are in Los Angeles, near universities and college.
Lead researcher for the study, Mary Rezk-Hanna, from UCLA said that the goal was to identify factors influencing perceptions, attitudes and preferences toward hookah smoking, adding that there was an urgent importance of more research and campaigns to increase public knowledge on the dangers of hookah smoking, especially among young adults.
Rezk-Hanna along with other researchers visited three Southern California hookah lounges and asked patrons between the ages of 18 and 30 if they believe smoking hookah to be harmful to their health. Fifty-seven percent said they thought that it was not. When asked why they thought hookahs were not harmful, 47 percent of the participants said they believed that the smoke gets filtered through water, and 35 percent said they thought that fruit used to flavor the tobacco detoxify tobacco's harmful chemicals. Still others, 16 percent, said they assumed hookahs are not harmful because the tobacco is not addictive and does not contain nicotine. But none of those beliefs are true.
When asked why hookah smoking was more attractive than cigarette smoking, 60 percent of the participants in the UCLA study said it to be a trendy way of socializing, although 43 percent of hookah users agreed to the fact that smoking hookah was harmful, she added.
The story is published in the journal Nursing Research.