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Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Water Pipe Tobacco Smoking in Middle & High School

Water pipe smoking seems to be increasing among adults as well as youth, and I was surprised to learn that my community actually has a hookah bar. To support my perception, a recent article in the American Journal of Public Health explored the frequency of this dangerous habit among Florida youth and uncovered some very disturbing trends.

The authors explored the 2007 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey which assessed tobacco-related beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors among about 9,000 of the state's middle and high school students finding that 4% of middle school and 11% of high school students reported ever having used a water pipe to smoke tobacco. In comparison, 21% of the middle school students and 41% of the high school students reported experience smoking cigarettes.

Teens who had ever tried smoking and boys were more likely to report using water pipes and African Americans were the least likely to report using them. It is interesting that youth reporting water pipe use perceived it to be more socially acceptable and less addictive and harmful to their health than smoking cigarettes.

Although water pipes are traditionally used in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and South Africa to smoke tobacco, the trend seems to be increasing in the United States, particularly among teens and college students, a trend I find quite disturbing!

Photo credit: Aurelijus Valeiša
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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.