California Hookah Use on The Rise as Cigarette Smoking Decreases

Cigarette smoking in California has fallen sharply in recent years, but new research finds that hookah use is on the rise, especially among young adults.

Between 2005 and 2008, the number of California adults who had ever used a hookah jumped by more than 40 percent, to 11.2 percent among men and 2.8 percent among women, according to researchers at UC San Diego. Among young adults ages 18 to 24, 24.5 percent of men and 10 percent of women had used a hookah in 2008.

A blonde smoking a cigarette and taking a guitar

A blonde smoking a cigarette and taking a guitar

In California, hookah use is most prevalent among 18- to 24-year-olds, men, whites and those with college educations. Its use among women, who are not the traditional consumers of smokeless tobacco products, is rising rapidly: Among all adult women, use jumped 47.4 percent between 2005 and 2008, the study found.

The data do not show whether people currently smoke a hookah or how often, but future surveys will ask these questions, Al-Delaimy said. Still, he said, more education and policies are needed to curb hookah use.

“The education level about it is very low,” he said.

Earlier this year, Al-Delaimy published a study that found 59.5 percent of high school students believed a hookah was more socially acceptable than cigarettes, and 46.3 percent believed it was safer. About 26 percent of the students, all from San Diego County, said they had smoked a hookah before.

“Smoking hookah is not safe; it’s a tobacco product, it’s harmful to your health and to people around you”. “It needs to be made crystal clear that hookah is tobacco and carries with it the same risks for lung disease and other health problems (as) any other tobacco product, like cigarettes and cigars.”

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