UNCG Campus Weekly

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Merlyn Griffiths researches the hookah phenomenon, hoping to dispel misleading messages

Dr. Merlyn Griffiths is dazzled by the beauty of hookah pipes. But, she has learned, even beautiful things can be dangerous.

Griffiths, a marketing professor in the Bryan School of Business and Economics, has spent years researching the allure of hookah for young people. And how to counter misleading messages and misinformation about the growing phenomenon.

“Hookah pipes are gorgeous, elemental works of art, but we’re sitting at the threshold, the beginning, if you will, of what could be an epidemic,” she says. “Let’s put the truth about what the consequences are in front of the public more clearly, more visibly. There’s a perpetuation of myths around smoking tobacco this way and I hope to demystify the whole process.”

And part of the myth of hookah is that it is safer than cigarettes.

Not so, says Griffiths, who published an article about the need for awareness and regulation of hookah in The Journal of Public Policy and Marketing. Another article by Griffiths and Dr. Eric Ford (Bryan School) will appear in the Journal of Social Work and Public Health in 2013.

Hookah smokers take in the equivalent of 100 cigarettes during just one hookah smoking session, which might last anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours, says Griffiths.

“My mom says I’m on a mission to tear hookah apart,” she says. “Tearing it apart is one thing, but educating consumers about the consequences of this consumption choice is actually what I intend do.”

Full story at UNCG News.

By Michelle Hines