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California health officials sound alarm over hookah smoking

Posted: December 13, 2012 |   Comments

(Reuters) - California public health officials warned on Thursday of a sharp rise in tobacco smoking from hookahs, and a proliferation of cafes and lounges offering the Middle Eastern-style water pipes, which experts say can be at least as harmful as cigarettes.

Hookah smoking among Californians jumped more than 40 percent between 2005 and 2008, said Dr. Ron Chapman, the state director of public health, citing a 2011 state tobacco survey published in the American Journal of Public Health.

He said the trend was particularly pronounced among college-age adults, with nearly a quarter of men 18 to 24 years old reporting they had used a hookah at least once, according to the same study.

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