2011 OPEN FORUM Abstracts
UNDERSTANDING THE PSYCHOSOCIAL ASPECTS OF WATERPIPE TOBACCO SMOKING (HOOKAH) AMONG COLLEGE STUDENTS.
Mary P. Martinasek1, Leila Martini1, Leah Phillips2, Tali Schneider1; 1Public Health, University of South FLorida, Tampa, FL; 2James A Haley Veterans Hospital, Tampa, FL
Background: Waterpipe smoking has obtained popularity among college students in the U.S., partly due to its exotic appeal, social nature, and perceived harmlessness. Waterpipe smoking differs from other health risk behaviors in that it is novel, lacks policy control, lacks uniform health messaging, and holds diverse variations in its practice. Method: This study consisted of a sequential mixed methods approach designed to provide an understanding of the factors that influence waterpipe smoking intention among college students. The purpose of the study was to gather empirical data through a random survey and to provide contextual rich data through qualitative methods that allow for greater depth and elaboration in responses. Sixty-three college students (smokers and nonsmokers) were interviewed regarding their current waterpipe and cigarette smoking behavior, knowledge, attitude, and beliefs about waterpipe tobacco smoking as compared with cigarette smoking. Additionally, three focus groups were held with current waterpipe tobacco smokers. This data informed a random survey completed by 388 undergraduate students attending a public university. Results: Forty percent of undergraduate students reported having ever smoked waterpipe tobacco with 18 percent reported being current smokers. This data supports other reports on college students in the US. Reasons cited for smoking waterpipe tobacco ranged from escapism from the pressures of college to helping students focus on their schoolwork. Students in this study perceived waterpipe tobacco smoking as being less harmful than cigarette smoking. Many of the students have purchased a pipe to allow more frequent smoking on campus at a cost reduction. When asked where they search for health information on waterpipe tobacco, many students cited the Internet, while others relied on information from hookah bar owners. Discussion: Lack of information on the negative health effects of waterpipe tobacco smoking has led young adults to believe that it is a safe alternative to cigarette smoking. Research shows that waterpipe tobacco smoking has similar addictive capabilities as cigarettes and contains additional heavy metals, due to the burning charcoal. Health messages and policy is needed to help curb this trend in tobacco smoking. Sponsored Research - None