Differences in Health and Religious Beliefs About Tobacco Use Among Waterpipe Users in the Rural Male Population of Egypt

J Relig Health. 2012 Dec;51(4):1216-25. doi: 10.1007/s10943-010-9431-y.


Waterpipe use is a highly prevalent form of tobacco use in the Eastern Mediterranean Region that is rooted in long-held cultural traditions that predate the use of cigarettes and present a particular challenge for tobacco control efforts. We did a stratified sampling of 4,994 Egyptian men from rural households of Egypt in order to conduct an interviewer-administered prevalence survey to identify differences in attitudes and beliefs toward smoking and smoking cessation between waterpipe users, cigarette smokers, mixed users (cigarette + waterpipe), and non-smokers. We found that cigarette smokers, mixed users, and/or non-smokers were (1) two- to ninefold more likely to believe that smoking decreased adult life expectancy and harmed a fetus than waterpipe users, (2) significantly more likely to believe that smoking is a sin ("haram") than were waterpipe users. Among tobacco users, we found that cigarette smokers and/or mixed users were significantly more likely to indicate pre-contemplation, contemplation, or intention to quit tobacco than waterpipe users. Our findings from rural Egyptian men indicate that waterpipe users are distinct from cigarette smokers in their perception that their form of tobacco use is less harmful and/or less subject to religious proscription. These beliefs may explain why waterpipe users seem less inclined to quit their tobacco habit and need to be considered in the design of tobacco cessation and prevention methods in Egypt and the region.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Egypt
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Rural Population*
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Spirituality*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires