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Am J Public Health. 2012 Sep;102(9):e47-51. Epub 2012 Jul 24.

US health policy related to hookah tobacco smoking.

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Program for Research on Media and Health, Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.



Although US cigarette smoking is decreasing, hookah tobacco smoking (HTS) is an emerging trend associated with substantial toxicant exposure. We assessed how a representative sample of US tobacco control policies may apply to HTS.


We examined municipal, county, and state legal texts applying to the 100 largest US cities. We developed a summary policy variable that distinguished among cities on the basis of how current tobacco control policies may apply to HTS and used multinomial logistic regression to determine associations between community-level sociodemographic variables and the policy outcome variable.


Although 73 of the 100 largest US cities have laws that disallow cigarette smoking in bars, 69 of these cities have exemptions that allow HTS; 4 of the 69 have passed legislation specifically exempting HTS, and 65 may permit HTS via generic tobacco retail establishment exemptions. Cities in which HTS may be exempted had denser populations than cities without clean air legislation.


Although three fourths of the largest US cities disallow cigarette smoking in bars, nearly 90% of these cities may permit HTS via exemptions. Closing this gap in clean air regulation may significantly reduce exposure to HTS.

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