So hookah use is much different from cigarette use, which is more common in non-urban areas.” Hookah, an ancient form of smoking, in which charcoal-heated tobacco or non-tobacco based shisha smoke is passed through water before inhalation, is rapidly gaining popularity among adolescents in the US. The researchers found those students who smoked cigarettes, and those who had ever used alcohol, marijuana or other illicit substances were more likely to use hookah. “Tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke are the leading preventable causes of morbidity and mortality in the US,” said a study co-author Michael Weitzman, MD, a professor of Pediatrics and of Environmental Medicine at the NYULMC. “Cigarette use has decreased by 33% in the past decade in the US, while the use of alternative tobacco products such as hookahs has increased an alarming 123%. This is especially worrisome given the public misperception that hookahs are a safe alternative to cigarettes whereas evidence suggests that they are even more damaging to health than are cigarettes.” While the US is experiencing an alarming increase in hookah use among adolescents, Dr. Palamar does point out that “Use tends to be much different from traditional cigarette smoking. Right now it appears that a lot of hookah use is more ritualistic, used occasionally–for example, in hookah bars, and not everyone inhales.” “However, times are beginning to change,” notes Dr. Palamar.
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-07/nlmc-nrf070114.php

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