What are young adults smoking in their hookahs? A latent class analysis of substances smoked

Addict Behav. 2014 Jul;39(7):1191-6. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2014.03.020. Epub 2014 Mar 26.


Rationale: Hookah smoking continues to be a popular form of tobacco use, especially among college students. Although hookahs are commonly used to smoke tobacco, anecdotal evidence suggests other substances, including herbal shisha, marijuana and hashish may be used. However, little is known about the variety of substances smoked in hookahs, or correlates associated with different substances smoked.

Methods: In fall 2010, 3447 students from 8 colleges in N.C. completed an online survey.

Results: 44% of students reported ever smoking tobacco from a hookah. Of those ever users, 90% reported smoking flavored tobacco in a hookah, 45% marijuana, 37% herbal (non-tobacco) shisha, and 18% hashish. Latent class analysis revealed two distinct classes. The most prevalent class (77%) primarily smoked flavored tobacco, with minimal use of herbal shisha and marijuana and virtually no use of hashish. The second class (23%) primarily smoked marijuana, hashish and flavored tobacco with moderate use of herbal shisha. Logistic regression analysis adjusting for clustering within schools revealed that males, illicit drug users, daily, nondaily and former cigarette smokers and those whose mothers had higher levels of education were significantly more likely to be in the second class compared to the first.

Conclusions: Rates of lifetime use of hookah were high in our sample of college students. While the majority of hookah users smoked tobacco in hookahs, they also smoked other substances, notably marijuana and herbal shisha. Prevention efforts should recognize that students are using hookahs to smoke a variety of substances.

Keywords: College students; Hookah; Tobacco.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marijuana Smoking / epidemiology*
  • North Carolina / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Students / statistics & numerical data*
  • Universities
  • Young Adult