Hookah tobacco smoking has become increasingly prevalent among college students, but little is known about frequency of use or patterns of use over time, including during the transition to college. The goals of this longitudinal cohort study were to assess the: (a) lifetime prevalence, (b) current prevalence, (c) frequency of use, and (d) pattern of initiation of hookah tobacco smoking among female students during the first year of college. First-year female college students (N=483) at a large private university in upstate New York completed 13 monthly online surveys about their hookah tobacco use from August 2009 to August 2010. Lifetime prevalence of hookah use increased from 29% at college entry to 45% at one-year follow-up. The highest rates of hookah initiation occurred in the first two months of students' first semester of college. Current (past 30 days) hookah use ranged from 5% to 13% during the year after college entry. On average, hookah users reported smoking hookah two days per month. Hookah tobacco use is common among female college students. The transition to college is a vulnerable time for hookah initiation. Preventive efforts should begin in high school and continue through college, with a focus on students' first few months on campus.
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