Think e-cigarettes are more popular than hookah?
Twitter would beg to differ.
A new study by analysts at Washington University shows that Twitter users send significantly more tweets about hookah (12,000 a day) than e-cigarettes (1,200 a day). Plus, researchers found that among those Twitter users with high influence and a large number of followers – the high majority promoted hookah use.
The study highlights the popularity of smoking hookah among college-age students and points out that usage has nearly doubled among adolescents.
The study found that many people normalized hookah on Twitter and did not perceive it to be harmful. Only 7 percent of the tweets related to hookah discouraged its use.
“Despite research demonstrating hookah use exposes smokers to toxins similar to those in cigarette smoke and increases exposure to carbon monoxide, hookah use is widely perceived as less harmful,” the study states.
Still, hookah popularity on Twitter paled in comparison to marijuana and alcohol use. About 250,000 tweets are sent per day related to marijuana and 400,000 about alcohol, the study found.
The study concluded that social networking about hookah use is likely to increase.
“In this age of social media, peer influences extend beyond those in our proximate communities to those in our virtual social networks,” the study states.