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Teenagers think hookah safer than cigarettes

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Teenagers and youngsters in their early 20s are more likely to rate hookah and e-cigarettes as safer than cigarettes, though the trend is not seen among 25 to 34 year-olds, a study says.

Studying data from 2,871 smoking and non-smoking young adults, ages 18-34, Olivia A. Wackowski and Cristine D. Delnevo from Rutgers University in US found that a quarter of young adults believed hookah to be less risky than cigarettes.

“A substantial proportion of non-smokers may view hookah as a safer and acceptable way to use tobacco,” the researchers said.

The researchers found that 62.1 percent of young adults aged 18 to 24 believed e-cigarettes were less risky than cigarettes, while 54.6 percent of 25 to 34 year-olds believed e-cigarettes to be less risky.

Additionally, 32.7 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds believed hookah to be less risky than cigarettes, while 18.5 percent of 25 to 34 year-olds believed hookah to be less risky.

57.8 percent of respondents believed e-cigarettes to be less risky than cigarettes and 11.4 percent said they were unsure.

Nevertheless, 50 percent of respondents said methanol cigarettes, hookah, cigars, smokeless tobacco and snus were as risky as cigarettes.

Also, 30 percent of all respondents said smokeless tobacco, menthol cigarettes, and cigars were more risky than cigarettes.

Around 24 percent said hookah was less risky than cigarettes, which was equally prevalent for both cigarette smokers and non-smokers.

“This might be associated with differences in advertising messages these groups are exposed to, the variety of flavours these different products are offered in, and in the case of e-cigarettes, possibly an inclination for younger people to attribute more positive feelings toward newer products that are seen as new and ‘techy’,” researchers said.

The study was published in the SAGE journal Health Education & Behaviour.

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