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Communicating Health Effects of Hookahs

Are hookah users aware of the potential negative effects of these water pipes? That’s what Bryan School professor Dr. Merlyn Griffiths and colleagues from Duke University and Virginia Commonwealth University hope to explore, with the support of a $420,830 grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Hookah smoking is a growing practice in the United States among youth and young adults. The rapid increase in users is due in part to the enticing advertisements of commercial entities, like hookah bars and lounges, that depict hookah smoking as a socially-pleasurable experience. However, little educational information about the risk and potentially negative outcomes is being communicated to users. Over a 16-month study, this team of researchers will explore the impact of different types of health warning messaging that could change the perception of users, toward curtailing this consumption behavior.

Since 2005, Dr. Griffiths has been studying hookah tobacco consumption. Her work has appeared in a number of outlets including Journal of Public Policy and Marketing, Social Work in Public Health, and the Wall Street Journal. In March 2016, she was an invited speaker at the Food and Drug Administration Water Pipe Smoking Workshop held in Maryland, where she presented her research on “Hookah Culture.” She was also invited by the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, a Center for Disease Control and Prevention project, to present her work and train community advocates, regulators, policy makers, and advisors at the 2016 Mid-Year Training Institute in Las Vegas and the 2017 Mid-Year Training Institute in Atlanta, Georgia.