Hookah tobacco smoking has become increasingly prevalent among American college students over the past decade. Hookah smoking is associated with poor health outcomes and exposes users to high levels of nicotine, carbon monoxide, and smoke. Research on the correlates of hookah use has begun to emerge, but all studies thus far have been cross-sectional. Little is known about hookah use during the transition to college, psychosocial factors related to hookah smoking, or prospective predictors of hookah initiation and frequency of use. This longitudinal cohort study examined risk and protective factors predicting initiation of hookah tobacco smoking during the first year of college. First-year female college students (n = 483; 64% White) provided data on demographic, behavioral, and psychosocial variables and precollege hookah use at baseline; they then completed 12 monthly online surveys about their hookah use from September 2009 to August, 2010. Among the 343 participants who did not report precollege use, 79 (23%) initiated hookah tobacco smoking during the year after college entry. Zero-inflated negative binomial regression showed that alcohol use predicted the likelihood of initiating hookah use; impulsivity, social comparison orientation, and marijuana use predicted the frequency of hookah use. These findings suggest that hookah prevention and intervention efforts may need to address other forms of substance use as well as hookah use.
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