Public health campaigns aimed at young people often focus on cigarettes, but teens need to know about dangers of hookah smoking as well.
Nearly one in five high school students has smoked a hookah pipe in the past year, according to a recent study.
Smoke from tobacco or other herbs basses through water before the smoke is inhaled from a hookah. But the water does not filter out tar, nicotine, and high doses of carbon monoxide. Hookah smoking is far from harmless.
Use of hookahs is also linked to lung cancer, respiratory illnesses, dental and gum diseases and low birth weights if a woman is pregnant when she smokes.
The study looked at how many teens smoke hookahs and was led by Joseph Palamar, PhD, MPH, of the Department of Population Health at New York University Langone Medical Center.
The researchers analyzed the data from a survey called Monitoring the Future, which interviewed 5,540 high school seniors between 2010 and 2012.
The seniors represented similar demographics for the US and reported whether they had smoked a hookah pipe within the previous year.
Overall, 18 percent of the students reported having smoked hookah in the previous 12 months.
White students were more likely than black students to smoke hookah, and wealthier students were more likely to smoke it than poorer students.
In fact, students in families with higher incomes were about 1.6 times more likely to smoke hookah than lower income students.
In addition, students who earned at least $50 a week from a job were 26 percent more likely to smoke hookah than students not earning outside money.
Even students provided money from other sources — $11 to $50 a week — were about 35 percent more likely to smoke hookah.
“Hookah smoking, unlike cigarette smoking, is a social activity often occurring among those of higher socioeconomic status,” the authors wrote.