Scientific Sessions 2015 - Hispanic man smoking an e-cigaretteTobacco use remains a serious problem among Hispanic/Latino adults, with increasing use and acceptance of e-cigarettes and hookah among younger tobacco users living in the United States, according to a study presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2015.

Hookah, also known as a water pipe, consists of a bowl, a chamber partially filled with water, hose and mouthpiece. It is designed to burn specialty tobacco which is typically flavored.

To better understand Hispanics’/Latinos’ knowledge, attitudes and behaviors regarding the use of tobacco products, as well as how these might differ across Hispanic/Latino ethnicities, researchers conducted 26 focus groups with smokers and nonsmokers. The focus groups included 180 Hispanic/Latino participants, 18 to 64 years of age, residing in varying U.S. locations where particular ethnic subgroups have settled: Chicago (Central and South Americans), New York City (Puerto Ricans and Dominicans), San Diego (Mexican/Mexican-Americans) and Miami (Cubans). Participants were recruited based on their birthplace (mainland U.S. vs elsewhere) and use of the English language as an index of acculturation (gradual process whereby immigrants incorporate the beliefs and behaviors of the mainstream culture).

Researchers found that regardless of the specific ethnic background and geographic location:

  • Hispanic/Latino participants reported substantial use of e-cigarettes and/or hookah.
  • Spanish-speaking immigrants who were 36 to 64 years were least likely to use these alternative tobacco products, whereas younger Latino smokers who were 18-35 reported significantly greater use.

Easy access to these products, the appeal of flavored tobacco products’ taste and smell, minimal restrictions on public use, and use while socializing were cited as reasons contributing to these products desirability.