By Robert Preidt
SATURDAY, July 19, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Many young adults don't realize that using hookahs can harm their health, a new study reveals.
Hookah smoking can be just as dangerous as cigarettes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, this study found that many young adults believe the water pipes are a safe alternative to cigarettes.
Researchers asked patrons, aged 18 to 30, at three Southern California hookah lounges if they thought that hookah use could be harmful. More than half said they did not believe that it would harm their health.
When asked why they believed hookahs were not a health threat, 47 percent said they thought the smoke gets filtered through the water. More than one-third thought the fruit used to flavor the tobacco detoxifies harmful chemicals, and 16 percent said the tobacco used in hookahs doesn't contain nicotine and isn't addictive.
None of those beliefs is true, said the authors of the study in the July/August issue of the journal Nursing Research.
"With hookah smoking on the rise, particularly among young adults, our goal was to identify factors influencing perceptions, attitudes and preferences toward hookah smoking," lead researcher Mary Rezk-Hanna, a nursing doctoral student at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in a university news release.
Previous research has shown that while cigarette use continues to fall, hookah smoking is on the rise, especially among college students. Sixty percent of the participants in the UCLA study said hookah smoking is a trendy way of socializing.
"This study underscores the urgent importance of more research and campaigns to increase public knowledge on the dangers of hookah smoking, especially among young adults," Rezk-Hanna said.
Understanding the basis of these perceptions and beliefs can help health care professionals design effective prevention and intervention strategies, she added.