SAN DIEGO, Aug. 19 (UPI) -- Researchers in California say they've tracked an alarming increase in the use of hookahs -- water pipes used for smoking tobacco -- among young adults.
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, said hookah use in the state was much higher among young adults aged 18 to 24 -- 24.5 percent among men, 10 percent among women -- than it was among all adults together at 11.2 percent among men and 2.8 percent among women.
"This rise is particularly alarming because it's happening in California, a state that leads the nation in tobacco control," said Wael Al-Delaimy of the UCSD Department of Family and Preventive Medicine. "While cigarette smoking has decreased nationwide and in California, reports of ever using hookah have increased, especially among adolescent and young adults."
The increased popularity of the hookah may be a result of the social nature of the behavior coupled with the misguided belief that it is less harmful than cigarettes, the researchers said in a UCSD release Friday.
"Though public indoor cigarette smoking is banned throughout California, hookah use is permitted in designated lounges," Al-Delaimy said. "This may create the impression that hookah is a safer alternative to cigarettes, which is simply not true."