Background: Water-pipe smoking is a rapidly growing form of tobacco use worldwide. Building on an earlier report of experimentation with cigarette and water-pipe smoking in a U.S. community sample of Arab-American youth aged 14-18 years, this article examines water-pipe smoking in more detail (e.g., smoking history, belief in harmfulness compared to cigarettes, family members in home who smoke water pipes) and compares the water-pipe-smoking behaviors of Arab-American youth with non-Arab-American youth in the same community.
Methods: A convenience sample of 1872 Arab-American and non-Arab-American high school students from the Midwest completed a 24-item tobacco survey. Data were collected in 2004-2005 and analyzed in 2007-2008.
Results: Arab-American youth reported lower percentages of ever cigarette smoking (20% vs 39%); current cigarette smoking (7% vs 22%); and regular cigarette smoking (3% vs 15%) than non-Arab-American youth. In contrast, Arab-American youth reported significantly higher percentages of ever water-pipe smoking (38% vs 21%) and current water-pipe smoking (17% vs 11%) than non-Arab-American youth. Seventy-seven percent perceived water-pipe smoking to be as harmful as or more harmful than cigarette smoking. Logistic regression showed that youth were 11.0 times more likely to be currently smoking cigarettes if they currently smoked water pipes. Youth were also 11.0 times more likely to be current water-pipe smokers if they currently smoked cigarettes. If one or more family members smoked water pipes in the home, youth were 6.3 times more likely to be current water-pipe smokers. The effects of ethnicity were reduced as a result of the explanatory value of family smoking.
Conclusions: Further research is needed to determine the percentages, patterns, and health risks of water-pipe smoking and its relationship to cigarette smoking among all youth. Additionally, youth tobacco prevention/cessation programs need to focus attention on water-pipe smoking in order to further dispel the myth that water-pipe smoking is a safe alternative to cigarette smoking.