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A growing number of young adults in California are using hookahs, researchers at the University of California, San Diego have found. In a new study, the researchers report that among 18-to-24-year-olds, 24.5 percent of men and 10 percent of women use hookahs, or waterpipes, to smoke tobacco.

Overall, 11.2 percent of men and 2.8 of women of all ages report using hookahs, UPI reports. “While cigarette smoking has decreased nationwide and in California, reports of ever using hookah have increased, especially among adolescent and young adults,” lead researcher Wael Al-Delaimy said in a news release. He noted that many hookah users incorrectly believe it is less harmful than cigarettes.

The researchers write in the American Journal of Public Health that hookah use increased more than 40 percent in California between 2005 and 2008. Public indoor cigarette smoking is banned in California, but hookah use is allowed in designated lounges.

Hookah bars feature water pipes that are used to smoke a blend of tobacco, molasses and fruit called shisha. Researchers say that contrary to the belief of many hookah smokers, the water in the pipe does not filter all the harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke.

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