Objectives: To examine the effect of ethnicity on waterpipe smoking among college students.
Design: A cross-sectional study utilized data from University of Houston students through an online survey (n = 2334) from March to April 2011. The survey included questions on demographic characteristics (sex, age, race/ethnicity), tobacco use experience, risk perception, social acceptability and popularity. Multivariate logistic regression was used to determine predictors of waterpipe use with three outcomes: ever-use vs. no use, past-year use vs. no use and past-month use vs. no use.
Results: Half of the sample had previously smoked tobacco using a waterpipe, approximately a third in the past year and 12.5% in the past month. Significant predictors included Middle Eastern ethnicity, Middle Eastern friend, past cigarette or cigar use. Perception of harm was associated with less use in the ever-use model, while perceived addictiveness, social acceptability and popularity of waterpipes were predictors in all models.
Conclusion: Our findings underscore the importance of developing culturally appropriate interventions to control waterpipe smoking among Middle Eastern Americans and those of Indian/Pakistani descent to curb further spread in US society, and highlight the importance of developing interventions that target the perceived addictiveness, social acceptability and popularity of waterpipe smoking.