Background: Hookah smoking has been referred to as a global tobacco epidemic by public health officials. This study aimed to investigate the characteristics, behaviour and perceptions related to hookah smoking among the youth smokers in Pune.
Methods: Two hundred and eighty established hookah smokers participated in this study. Data was collected using a 29-item questionnaire, constructed using three main domains: Characteristics (socio-demographic and personal), behaviour and perceptions (about harmful effects in comparison to cigarette smoking).
Results: The results indicated that the mean age of starting hookah smoking was 17.3 years; 75% of participants did not have parental acceptance; light-headedness, dizziness and headache were most common reported nicotine effects, post hookah smoking. Hookah smoking on a daily basis was reported by 24.6% participants. The mean time of hookah session was 1 hour and 19 minutes. 68.2% participants were reported to smoke hookah in hookah-cafes and 35.7% participants were found to share the hookah. Some 66.7% participants had no intention to quit. Most of them (71-80%) had misperception about the safety of hookah smoking over cigarette smoking and 54-82% participants were unaware of health effects.
Conclusions: Educational intervention is urgently needed to create awareness among the youth about the harmful effects of hookah smoking.