Hookah Use and Perceptions among Young Adult Hookah Users
Background: Despite declining cigarette use, hookah use has increased substantially among youth and young adults. This is alarming, as hookah can lead to the same health risks as cigarettes and expose users to a high amount of smoke, nicotine, and toxicants. Determining patterns of hookah use and perceptions in young adults is important in prevention efforts. Methods: Structured in-person interviews were conducted for this qualitative study in June 2016. Twenty-three hookah users between the ages of 18 and 29 years living in Austin, TX who were not currently enrolled in a college or university completed the interview. NVivo 11 Pro was utilized to code transcribed transcripts for common themes among participants. Results: When trying hookah for the first time, all participants had used flavored tobacco, with fruit flavors being most popular at initiation and for current use. Many participants initiated hookah use under the age of 18 years old. While only one participant initiated hookah use alone, one-third of participants had smoked hookah alone, not in the company of others. The majority of participants owned or previously owned their own hookah device. Common motivational factors for hookah use involved being social, taste, and the calming/relaxation effect. Participants perceived hookah use to be both harmful and addictive; however, many participants were unsure if hookah was more harmful to health than cigarettes. Conclusion: Young adults who are not currently enrolled in college may have similar hookah use behaviors and risk perceptions as do college students, yet non-college students in this sample are using hookah alone and report owning a hookah device. This study supports the need for research on the effect of policy changes on hookah use, receptivity to warning labels, and programs to correct misperceptions.