Introduction: Hookah use is increasing among young people, but there are limited data on its use among high school-age populations. We examined hookah use initiation, prevalence, cessation, and psychosocial risk factors of hookah use among high school students.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey of 689 students from three high schools in San Diego County was used to compare characteristics of hookah ever-users to nonusers and factors associated with current and former hookah use.
Results: Hookah ever-use in the study population was 26.1%, previous month hookah use was 10.9%, and current hookah use was 10.3%. Most students first learned about hookah from friends (50.3%) or saw a hookah lounge (20.9%). Students believed hookah to be more socially acceptable than cigarettes and less harmful than cigarettes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco. Hookah ever-users were significantly more likely than nonusers to have smoked cigarettes, to know of a hookah lounge in their community, and to believe hookah is safer and more socially acceptable than cigarettes. In comparison to former users, current users were more likely to have recently smoked a cigarette, to know of a hookah lounge in their community, and to believe hookah is more socially acceptable than cigarettes.
Conclusions: Hookah use is becoming a commonly acceptable behavior among adolescents, and risk perception is a significant factor. Presence of hookah lounges are associated with increased hookah use among high school students and should be a target of further regulation.