Educational campaigns meant to dissuade college students from initiating hookah tobacco smoking may be more successful if they combat positive perceptions of hookah use as attractive and romantic, rather than focusing solely on the harmful components of hookah tobacco smoke, a new University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine study found.1
Researchers analyzed a sample of 569 first- and second-year University of Florida college students who were surveyed twice over a 7-month period about their attitudes, knowledge, and behaviors regarding hookah smoking. During that time, 13% of the students initiated hookah tobacco use. The students were more likely to initiate hookah use if they had positive attitudes toward hookah smoking.
“Hookah tobacco smoking does not seem to be hampered by many of the negative social stigmas of cigarette smoking,” said lead author Jaime Sidani, PhD, MPH, Senior Research Specialist in the Program for Research on Media and Health (PROMH) at University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
Senior author Brian Primack, MD, PhD, Director of PROMH, added that regulation of hookah tobacco smoking and marketing in the United States is confusing and less rigorous than laws meant to prevent cigarette smoking, which may contribute to misperceptions about hookah smoking. ■
Disclosure: This research was supported by National Cancer Institute grant no. R01-CA140150 and the Steven Manners Memorial Fund at Pitt’s University Center for Social & Urban Research.
1. Sidani JE, Shensa A, Barnett TE, et al: Knowledge, attitudes, and normative beliefs as predictors of hookah smoking initiation: A longitudinal study of university students. Nicotine Tob Res 16(6):647-654, 2014.