During the past decade, crack smoking has increased in Mexico among poor urban populations. Despite this increasing prevalence, little is known about the types of paraphernalia used and related sharing practices and physical harms. Data come from in-depth semi-structured interviews and observations with 156 current crack smokers in Mexico City. Findings reveal a complex, crack-smoking process in Mexico City that represents an interconnected structure of paraphernalia items and pipes that could contribute to detrimental health consequences. Specifically, we identify essential paraphernalia items that make the smoking of crack possible; describe the homemade construction of two categories of pipes; and detail the sharing practices and physical harms associated with these paraphernalia. Results point towards a smoking process that is embedded in impoverished urban neighborhoods sustained by an accessible street-level crack market. Discussed are the policy and intervention implications associated with reducing crack-related health consequences in Mexico and other Latin American countries.
Keywords: Crack; Mexico City; health risks; paraphernalia; urban neighborhoods.