211931 Hookah smoking among South Asian students at The George Washington University (GW) – Analyzing the water myth

Monday, November 9, 2009

Rabia H. Mir, MPH , School of Public Health and Health Services, The George Washington University, Rockville, MD
Objectives: This study examined the hookah smoking habits and perceptions of South Asians at GW. The research objectives were: To gain understanding of GW South Asian students' hookah smoking habits; To gain understanding of GW South Asian students' perceptions and attitudes towards hookah smoking; To gain understanding of types of campaigns that will help students decrease hookah smoking; To add more research and awareness to the topic.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey was available on SurveyMonkey.com. A representative sample of South Asians at GW was recruited through GW groups on Facebook.com.

Results: Hookah smoking is very popular among GW South Asians. It is a highly social activity and more socially acceptable than other modes of smoking. It is smoked for long periods of time. South Asians tend to think hookah smoking is significantly less harmful than cigarette smoking and generally do not know or misperceive the health effects, such as addiction and impact on lungs. One common myth is that the water filters out all the “bad stuff.” Hookah smoking barely receives any media attention and is generally not brought up by health professionals.

Conclusions: Hookah smoking is an important public health issue that can potentially turn into a dangerous epidemic. Although more research is needed, health professionals should begin raising awareness and correcting misperceptions among the public, particularly South Asians.

Learning Objectives:
At the end of this presentation the participants will be able to: 1. Describe the prevalence of hookah (waterpipe) smoking and misperceptions surrounding hookah smoking 2. Describe ways social marketing can be used to decrease prevalence and correct misperceptions of hookah smoking

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I completed this research for my final thesis before I graduated from the MPH program. I was able to publish an article based on my thesis in The Washington Post and also presented by research at The Johns Hopkins University.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.