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Arabian nights in Hong Kong: Chinese young adults’ experience of waterpipe smoking


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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