Date of Award
Master of Public Health (MPH)
Shanta Rishi Dube, PhD, MPH
Ashli A. Owen-Smith, PhD SM
Introduction: The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared hookah smoking to be a significant public health problem. According to Martinasek et al. the increase in the number of hookah smokers is due to lack of education and public awareness, there is a general impression that hookah is a safe alternative to cigarettes. (Martinasek et al., 2011). On the other hand, hookah is affordable and has appealing flavor. The US Food and Drug Administration does not regulate hookah and there is a lack of regulation in packet labeling (Martinasek et al., 2011). Hookah smoking and cigarette smoking produces the exact same toxic chemicals and carcinogens (Martinasek et al., 2011). The US Environmental Protection Agency claims that hookah smoking releases secondhand smoke which contains cancer causing agents (Martinasek et al., 2011). Overall, hookah smoking is increasing rapidly among youth due to social acceptance, low cost, appealing flavors, lack of regulatory policies and incorrect harm perception. Therefore, I propose a study that will aim to answer the following research questions:
1) What are the socio-demographic characteristics of middle school and high school students who have awareness of hookah?
2) What are the characteristics of middle school and high school students who report hookah is less harmful than cigarettes?
3) Does awareness of hookah, harm perception of hookah, ever user and current user of hookah differ by living with hookah users?
4) How does harm perception of hookah correlate with use of hookah among US youth?
I hypothesize that American youth who perceive hookah as less harmful than cigarettes will more likely be users of hookah as compared to youth who perceive these products are more harmful.
Methods: The secondary data analysis was conducted using the data from the 2013 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS). The study population was middle and high school students. The independent variables of interest were students who were current users of hookah, had ever used hookah, as well as those aware of hookah smoking. The dependent variable was harm perception of hookah smoking. A weighting factor was adjusted in the survey to get a weighted proportion of students in each grade to match with the national population. The prevalence of current and ever users of hookah, as well as those aware of hookah among middle school and high school students, was examined. The frequency of high school and middle school students who are living with hookah users, and those who were not evaluated. The association of harm perception of hookah among current and ever users, as well as those aware of hookah smoking adjusted by those who are living with hookah users was assessed. Data was analyzed in SAS 9.3 to examine the association between the independent and dependent variables. Frequency, logistic regression and a chi-square tests were used to find the odds ratio and p-value between the dependent and independent variables.
Results: Association of harm perception of hookah among current users of hookah, ever users, as well as those aware of hookah smoking, reported that 55.64% of current users of hookah (Adjusted OR = 4.99, CI: 3.78-6.59), 43.80% of ever users of hookah (Adjusted OR = 4.96, CI: 4.02-6.13) and 21.50% of those who were aware of hookah smoking (Adjusted OR = 3.20, CI: 2.82-3.91) believed that hookah smoking is less harmful than cigarette smoking in both middle and high school. Participants who were current users of cigar smoking i.e.26.57% (crude OR = 2.80 CI: 2.45-3.20), Adjusted OR = 1.18, CI: 0.96-1.45)) as well as ever users of cigar smoking i.e. 24.76% (crude OR= 3.18, CI: 2.78-3.65), adjusted OR = 2.24, CI: 1.85-2.71)) believe hookah smoking is less harmful than cigarette smoking compared to individuals who were not current as well as ever users of cigar smoking. There was no significant difference between odds of male and female in believing that hookah smoking is less harmful than cigarette smoking.
Discussion: Overall these results suggest that students who were associated with hookah usage believe that hookah smoking is less harmful than cigarette smoking. Moreover, students who were ever users of cigar smoking had 2.24 odds of believing that hookah smoking is less harmful than cigarette smoking compared to individuals who were not ever users of cigar smoking.
Conclusion: Therefore, American youth who perceive hookah as less harmful than cigarettes will more likely be users of hookah as compared to youth who perceive these products are more harmful
Mirgal, Omkar R., "Examination of Harm Perception of Hookah Among Youth in the US." Thesis, Georgia State University, 2017.