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Arabian nights in Hong Kong: Chinese young adults’ experience of waterpipe smoking
  1. Jung Jae Lee1,
  2. Karly Cheuk Yin Yeung2,
  3. Man Ping Wang1,
  4. Sally Thorne3
  1. 1 School of Nursing, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
  2. 2 Department of Psychology, University of Bath, Bath, Somerset, UK
  3. 3 School of Nursing, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jung Jae Lee, School of Nursing, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong; leejay{at}


Background Waterpipe smoking (WPS) has increased among young adults who may be oblivious to its harmful effects. We explored Chinese young adults’ experiences of using waterpipes.

Methods Semi-structured interviews with 49 Chinese young adults aged between 18 to 30 years who had smoked waterpipes in the past 30 days were undertaken between May and October 2019. We analysed transcripts using interpretive description that includes an inductive analytical approach and constant comparison strategy.

Results Six themes on the WPS experience emerged: fostering social connections on weekend nights; bars as a natural setting for waterpipe smoking; providing pleasure; securing social status among young females; growing acceptance and a lack of education; lack of regulation on waterpipe smoking.

Conclusions We provide the first evidence regarding Chinese young adults’ WPS use. Policy measures to de-normalise false perceptions of WPS are urgently needed to deter use among young adults.

  • denormalization
  • non-cigarette tobacco products
  • prevention
  • surveillance and monitoring

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  • JJL and KCYY contributed equally.

  • Contributors JJL and KCYY contributed to the study design, data acquisition and analysis, and to the drafting of the manuscript. MPW and ST contributed to the analysis, draft and critical revision of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding The authors received a research grant from the Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health (COSH) for the conduct of the study.

  • Competing interests No, there are no competing interests.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.