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One Third of Students Use Hookahs

Although they're seen as harmless fun, water pipes can be more dangerous than cigarettes.

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By Valerie Tejeda

06/11/12

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One in three college students smokes "shisha", according to a new study—but hitting up the hookah bar on summer break could be seriously bad for your health. Hookah smoke is just as toxic as cigarette smoke—but worryingly, an hour-long hookah session results in the inhalation of 100-200 times as much smoke of a single cigarette, states a CDC fact sheet. The new study—published in the Nicotine and Tobacco Research journal—found that half of the one out of three college students who have smoked hookah don't smoke cigarettes. More than 100,000 students from 152 different universities participated in the study. “Although current waterpipe use was reported across all individual and institutional characteristics,” say the authors, “fully adjusted multivariable models showed that it was most strongly associated with younger age, male gender, white race, fraternity/sorority membership and nonreligious institutions in large cities in the western United States.” Lead author Dr. Brian Primack says in the study that smoking hookah is just as addicting as cigarettes and “should be included with other forms of tobacco in efforts related to tobacco surveillance and intervention.” Water pipe smoking has become highly popular in the US, with many bars and lounges emerging across the country. Hookah fans have told The Fix that the "fun," sociable nature of the practice is what makes it so attractive.

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