Nicotine Tob Res 2017 Nov;19(11):1375-1380
GlaxoSmithKline, Dubai, UAE.
Introduction: In recent decades, waterpipe use has gained popularity, notably in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. This study describes waterpipe use and characteristics of waterpipe users among the general population of the MENA region.
Methods: This study was a sub-analysis of the BREATHE study, a cross-sectional survey of chronic obstructive respiratory disease conducted in the general population of 11 countries of the MENA region. The study population consisted of subjects aged ≥40 years who completed the screening questionnaire and who reported waterpipe use (alone or with cigarettes). This questionnaire collected data on demographics, self-reported respiratory symptoms (breathlessness and productive cough), smoking habits (cigarettes or waterpipe) and diagnosis of chronic obstructive respiratory disease, chronic bronchitis or emphysema.
Results: Of the 62 086 subjects screened in the BREATHE study, waterpipe use was reported by 2173 subjects (3.5% [95% CI: 3.4%-3.6%]), of whom 934 subjects (43.0%) smoked both waterpipes and cigarettes. The majority of waterpipe users were men (82%) and aged from 40 to 49 years (53.7%). Over 90% of users smoked their waterpipe for ≥1 hour per day. Waterpipe use was associated with an increased risk of productive cough (odds ratio [OR]: 1.49), breathlessness (OR: 1.33), and chronic bronchitis (OR: 1.43), independently of the risk associated with cigarette smoking. In subjects using waterpipe alone (N = 1239), breathlessness was the most frequently self-reported symptom (11.3%), followed by productive cough (6.0%) and chronic bronchitis (2.2%).
Conclusions: Waterpipe smoking in the region is widespread and is associated with an increased risk of respiratory pathology independently of cigarette smoking.
Implications: This large general population study reports an elevated risk of respiratory disease associated with waterpipe use independently of cigarette smoking; this finding emphasizes the need for public health policies to curtail the growing spread of waterpipe use by young people in the MENA region.