Heavy marijuana use among teens has increased drastically in recent years, with nearly one in 10 sparking up 20 times or more each month, according to a new survey of young Americans released this morning.
The findings represent nearly an 80 percent increase in past-month heavy marijuana use among high school aged youth since 2008.
Overall, the rate of marijuana use among teens has increased. Past month marijuana users, or teens that have used marijuana in the month prior to the survey, increased 42 percent, to 27 percent of teens, compared to 2008 findings. Past-year and lifetime use also increased, but not as drastically, at 26 percent and 21 percent respectively.
Marijuana use has not been this widespread among American teens since 1998, when the past-month usage rate hovered around 27 percent, according the survey conducted by The Partnership at Drugfree.org and the MetLife Foundation.
“Heavy use of marijuana – particularly beginning in adolescence – brings the risk of serious problems and our data show it is linked to involvement with alcohol and other drugs as well,” Steve Pasierb, President and CEO of The Partnership at Drugfree.org, said in a press release. “Kids who begin using drugs or alcohol as teenagers are more likely to struggle with substance use disorders when compared to those who start using after the teenage years.”
The use of marijuana is becoming normalized among teens, too, according to the survey of 3,322 teen-aged students in grades 9-12 and 821 parents. Seventy-one percent of teens said they have friends who use the drug, up 64 percent from 2008, and only 26 percent agreed with the statement, “in my school, most teens don’t smoke marijuana.”
Still, while the number of teens who have used marijuana in their lifetime is on the rise, less than half of high school aged students have actually used the drug. The rate of teens who disapproved of their peer’s use of the drug remained unchanged since 2008, with more than 60 percent disapproving of the practice – and 41 percent who said they “strongly disapprove.”
Heavy users are drastically more likely to use other drugs such as cocaine, Ecstasy and prescription drugs, compared to their peers who reported not using marijuana in the past year, the report found.
Teen boys, especially Hispanic males, have led the increase in the past year. Heavy usage by teen boys usage increased at nearly twice the rate of their female counterparts. Hispanic high school males are more likely to have used marijuana in the past year compared to their peers. Fifty percent reported using the drug in the past year, compared to 40 percent of black and 35 percent of white teens.
“The latest findings showing an increase in marijuana use among teens is unsettling and should serve as a wake-up call to everyone in a position to prevent unhealthy behavior,” said Dennis White, President and CEO of MetLife Foundation, who contributed to the report. “While it may be difficult to clearly understand just how dangerous marijuana use can be for teens, it is imperative that we all pay attention to the warning signs and intervene anyway we can.”
The findings are part of the 23rd annual Partnership Attitude Tracking Study, a yearly gauge of teens’ and parents’ attitudes toward issues that affect their lives.
Photo credit: Ryan Schill/JJIE
Newly collected data from the Department of Education shows that minority students are disproportionately subject to harsher disciplinary actions in public schools than their peers and offers insight into opportunity gaps for public school students around the country.
More than 70 percent of students involved in school arrests or law enforcement referrals were black or Hispanic, according to the report. Black students were three and half times more likely to be suspended or expelled than white peers, the New York Times reported.
The Civil Rights Data Collection’s 2009-10 gathered statistics from 72,000 schools, serving about 85 percent of the nation’s students from kindergarten through high school.
While the disciplinary data is probably the most dramatic, the statistics illustrated a range of racial and ethnic disparities. Finding included:
- Black students made up only 18 percent of those enrolled in the schools sampled, however, they accounted for 35 percent of those suspended once, 46 percent of those suspended more than once and 39 percent of all expulsions, according to the Civil Rights Data Collection’s 2009-10 statistics.
- Over 70 percent of the students involved in school-related arrests or referred to law enforcement were Hispanic or black.
- Black students were three and a half times as likely to be suspended or expelled than their white peers.
- In districts that reported expulsions under zero-tolerance policies, Hispanic and black students represent 45 percent of the student body, but 56 percent of those expelled under such policies.
“For the first time we have an incredible new source of data that tells us where opportunity gaps are in ways we’ve never seen before as a country,” Russlynn Ali, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the Department of Education, said in a telephone briefing with reporters on Monday. “In recent years we have more data than ever before on identifying the achievement gap and where it exists.”
The department has gathered information on civil rights and education since 1968, yet the Bush administration suspended the project in 2006. Since then, the data collection has been reinstated and expanded to include referrals to law enforcement, The New York Times reported.
The Civil Rights Data Collection is being released in two parts. This afternoon Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education, along with Aliwill will announce the results at Howard University. Afterward, data will be publicly available at ocrdata.ed.gov.
Check back for expanded coverage and updates.
“The middle grades are the make-or-break point of our K-12 public school system,” SREB President Dave Spence said in a press release. “If states are serious about raising graduation rates and preparing more students for postsecondary study, work has to begin now on the middle grades.”
The SREB is a non-profit, non-partisan organization established by regional governors and legislators to improve the public education system. The organization covers 16 states in the South and Southeast, working directly with state leaders, schools and educators to improve learning and student achievement from Pre-K to higher education.
The 16 states covered by the SREB have made “good” progress in early grades achievement in recent years according to the report, but a number still lag behind national standards.
Meanwhile, nation-wide, the likelihood an American teen will graduate from high school increased from 2006 to 2009 according to the 2011 KIDS COUNT Data Book, an annual report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation on children’s well-being throughout the nation.
While some 1.1 million teens between the age of 16 and 19 didn’t graduate high school or failed to enroll in 2009, the number represents about a 50 percent decline in the dropout rate since 2000, according to Kids Count.
Today, students entering high school in the South have about a 50/50 shot of making it into some sort of postsecondary education by age 19, according to the SREB report, yet research has shown the job sectors expected to grow fastest in the coming years will require some sort of college degree or technical certificate.
Out of the SREB-district students that enrolled in a four-year college directly after high school in 2003, little more than half (53 percent) graduated within six years. Those enrolled in two-year colleges within the same period fared worse, with less than 20 percent graduating within three years.
According to 2009 figures, adults with a high school diploma earned an average of $8,500 a year more than adults without a diploma. Those with a bachelor’s degree average $26,000 more per year and tended to make healthier life choices, with a lower likelihood of becoming involved in the criminal justice system, according to the SREB report.
Fourteen other nations already exceed the United States in the percentage of 25- to 34- year-olds who have completed at least two years of education beyond high school, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
It’s a worrying trend, even for President Obama. At a July 2011 roundtable, the president called education “the single most important factor in determining not just whether our kids can compete for the best jobs, but whether America can out-compete countries around the world.”
Throughout his presidency, Obama has pushed for a greater focus in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The SREB report supports these initiatives, calling for an increased focus on both STEM studies and student literacy.
“Focusing on the middle grades curriculum to emphasize STEM in every subject means that more students will master these skills than in the past,” the SREB report notes. “They provide a foundation for continuing study in high school and for nearly all careers.”
To improve the states' graduation rates and help prepare students for high school, postsecondary study and even a future career, the 28-page report “A New Mission for Middle Grades: Preparing Students for a Changing World” offers a detailed, six-point roadmap to improving educational outcomes in middle school and beyond:
- Communicate and clarify the mission in every middle grades school.
- Focus the middle grades curriculum on literacy and STEM disciplines.
- Identify middle grades students likely to drop out of school and intervene with increased learning time and accelerated instructions.
- Require middle grades students to complete individual academic and career plans.
- Refocus professional development for middle grades teachers, counselors and school leaders.
- Hold districts and schools accountable for meeting the middle grades mission
According to the report, the middle grades are pivotal years for shaping a student’s future.
A phenomenon known as the “ninth-grade enrollment bulge” -- a chronic trend throughout the Southeast in which more students are enrolled in ninth grade than were enrolled in eighth grade due to being held back -- directly contributes to graduation rates, according to the report. Students cited not being on track to graduate with their peers as a critical factor in their decision to drop out of school.
Identifying those students at risk of dropping out or significantly lagging in the academic sector before they reach high school can reduce the “ninth-grade enrollment bulge” and ultimately the dropout rate, the report suggests.
“What we do to engage today’s sixth-grade students will have serious consequences for the strength of the economy in SREB states and the nation for years to come,” said North Carolina’s Gov. Beverly Perdue, former chair of the SREB Middle Grades Commission that produced the report.
Maryland has also started to develop a STEM resource clearinghouse with the hopes of bolstering early academic achievement in the state and facilitating an exchange of expertise and resources. Three county school districts are already online, but once completed the clearinghouse will act as a gateway for teachers to share knowledge, resources, and exchange ideas with STEM professionals and other academics.
“Part of the challenge is to move Maryland students to become world-class in STEM,” said June Streckfus, Executive Director of the Maryland Business Roundtable for Education and Co-Chair of the 2008 [Maryland] Stem Task Force . “In order to do that we took a two-prong approach,” focusing on motivating students to enroll in harder classes while fulfilling the needs of the teaching staff in areas like professional development and resource availability.
Findings from Montgomery County, Md., one of the few school districts in the nation to start putting the SREB’s vision for effective middle school practices to work, supports the work being done to improve education in the state. Data, based on student achievement in the district suggests students who pass Algebra I in the eighth grade are twice as likely to continue on to college.
In North Carolina, state legislators have pledged to create 10 anchor schools with a focus on STEM curriculum. Three high schools focused on STEM curriculum have already been established, with more expected in the coming years. Students choose whether to attend a STEM-centric high school while still taking middle school classes.
The anchor schools aim to lead the state’s efforts to develop exemplary STEM curricula while serving as centers for professional development and lead the state in innovative teaching and learning practices, according to the SREB report.
The Women’s Foundation of Minnesota (WFM) recently announced the launch of a five-year campaign to end the sex trafficking of girls in the state through a combination of grants, research, public education, convening and evaluation.
The A FUTURE: Minnesota Girls Are Not for Sale campaign will award grants between $40,000 and $70,000 per year for:
- efforts to change state laws to recognize prostituted girls as victims of crimes, not criminals.
- Creating and maintaining shelters for survivors.
- Training youth and youth outreach professionals about sex trafficking prevention.
To be eligible for the grant, programs must focus primary on directly reducing sex trafficking of girls (or gender non-conforming youth) under the age of 18 within Minnesota.
Applications for year-one funding of the five-year initiative runs Feb. 1, 2012 to Jan. 31, 2013. Year 2-3 and 3-4 funding are contingent on organizational performance.
Information for this particular grant is not yet available on the WFM website, but details are available through a downloadable PDF.
Alabama’s only agency designated to prevent child abuse and neglect, among the many juvenile justice departments around the nation grappling with a smaller budget, will serve nearly half the number of kids in 2012 as they did in 2011.
The Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention (DCANP) is preparing to cut 74 community-based programs around the state when the new budget takes effect October 1. The cuts bring the total number of programs to just 101 for FY 2012, compared to 227 funded in FY 2005.
The reduction in services represents roughly 14,000 kids that will no longer have access to community-based prevention programs.
“I’m really concerned with the burden of the system as a whole,” says Kelley Parris-Barnes, director of the DCANP. “When you take the community-level programs out you don’t have the capacity in the state to do it.”
The DCANP doesn’t deliver services directly. Rather, the department funds a variety of community-based prevention and education programs. According to Barnes, community members have the capacity and cultural relationship to identify at-risk children long before state-level agencies are able to.
The financial challenges facing the department and the state as a whole are not much different than those facing local governments throughout the United States. Texas, Idaho, Louisiana and many others have witnessed a reduction in juvenile related services.
“There’s not a state, county or city not making the same evaluation with the current budget situation we’re in,” says state Rep. Jack Williams, the Republican chair of Alabama’s Children and Senior Advocacy Committee, adding the committee plans to look at the effectiveness of existing programs and set benchmarks for the future.
“If an agency is serving children in need and doing an effective job I want to do everything I can to support them in the greatest capacity the state has, but we’re going to have to set some benchmarks,” Williams says. “At some point there is going to have to be a line and if you fall below it, the state is not going to be helping [with funding] anymore.”
The DCANP has already seen some steep state-level cuts in writing. When the budget takes effect at the beginning of October the agency will lose nearly 75 percent of its funding from the state’s General Fund and almost a third from Alabama’s Education Trust Fund.
Also gone completely is $1.5 million in federal money to fund the Mentoring Children of Prisoners program, and roughly $200,000 from other federal funding.
“The Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention should be the last thing cut in the state budget because of the far-reaching consequences for the safety of children,” says Sue Bell Cobb, former Alabama Chief Justice and long-time child advocate.
In a letter to Cobb, DCANP director Parris-Barnes outlined the effectiveness of community-based prevention programs, citing the fact that every dollar spent on child preventative services represents a minimum of $5.68 in state savings.
In the interim, the department and other child advocacy groups in the state are looking to keep programs afloat through a variety of measures. The DCANP has been holding sustainability meetings with program leaders from around the state to outline the impact of specific cuts to each district. Among the topics were tactics for pursuing outside funding and getting children into alternative programs.
Alabama’s Children First Foundation is drawing plans to advocate for an increased tobacco tax in an effort to drum up additional funding for child services in the state.
“All child advocates in Alabama are extremely concerned about the reduction in funding to the Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention and other child services,” Cobb said. “There’s still so much to be done because we’ve really never had the adequate funding or appropriate priority put on these [prevention] programs.”
In 2009, the last year data was available, Alabama ranked 46th among the states of children living in poverty, according to the Census Bureau.
Alabama's governor's office was unavailable for comment prior to deadline.
Delinquency referrals peaked in 1994-1995, according to the Associated Press, with 123 for every 1,000 kids age 10 to 17. Since then the rate has dropped every year to it’s current low of 59 for every 1,000 juveniles in the state.
Florida’s Department of Juvenile Justice plans to further reduce the number of referrals in the coming years with an increased emphasis on civil citations in lieu of criminal charges and community-based treatment programs.
While the exact number of juvenile offenders has yet to be determined, the department expects it to be below 110,000 for the year.
An amended law that took effect July 1 made Mississippi the latest state to rethink how youth under the age of 18 are handled in criminal court. The new measure prevents most 17-year-old misdemeanor and nonviolent felony offenders from being tried as adults. Certain felonies including rape, murder and armed robbery may still warrant charges in the adult court system.
Two other states, Connecticut and Illinois, passed similar reforms earlier this year bringing the national total to 39 states that view juveniles as any individual below the age of 18, according to a report issued last week by the Campaign for Youth Justice.
“This is a good news report.” Liz Ryan, director of the Campaign for Youth Justice, -- a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit focused on the issue -- told USA Today. “This really shows that there is a turning tide in the way states are treating kids in the juvenile justice system.”
Some juvenile advocates consider the amendment a positive change in the treatment of youthful offenders, but Mississippi law enforcement and juvenile officials worry it could adversely impact an already over-burdened Youth Court system.
“It’s going to create a tremendous pressure on our juvenile justice system with no increase in resource,” Harrison County Youth Court Judge Margaret Alfonso told the (Biloxi-Gulfport) Sun Herald. “So, it’s creating pressure on a system that’s already pressed.”
Legislators in Mississippi amended the law following state budget cuts that reduced bed space and maximum detention times, among other things, in juvenile facilities. But officials failed to allocate additional funds to the Youth Court system to deal with added expenses and growing number of offenders.
It costs states more to incarcerate offenders in juvenile than adult facilities due to health, counseling and other obligations, but juvenile inmates tend to have a lower recidivism rate than their counterparts in the adult system, according to the same Campaign for Youth Justice report.
Nationally, the United States has witnessed a five-year trend of states rethinking how juveniles are handled in the criminal justice system in large part due to research in adolescent brain development.
Crimes committed by minors aren’t always done with malice because they can’t fully distinguish right from wrong, Gina Vincent, assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, told JJIE at a brain development conference in early May.
Only 11 states, including Georgia, still try offenders younger than 18 in adult courts for nonviolent offenses. Roughly 250,000 offenders under the age of 18 are prosecuted in adult courts annually, according to the Campaign for Youth Justice report.
Under California’s Senate Bill 9, inmates sentenced to life without parole (LWOP) for crimes committed as a juvenile have the option to submit a petition for consideration of a new sentence after serving 15 years. If approved by the review court an LWOP sentence could be reduced to a stint of 25 years to life, a prison term that comes with the possibility of parole.
“The neuroscience is clear – brain maturation continues well through adolescence and thus impulse control, planning, and critical thinking skills are not yet fully developed,” state Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), a child psychologist and author of the bill, said through his office. “SB 9 reflects that science and provides the opportunity for compassion and rehabilitation that we should exercise with minors. SB 9 is not a get-out-of-jail-free card; it is an incredibly modest proposal that respects victims, international law, and the fact that children have a greater capacity for rehabilitation than adults.”
Patricia Soung, staff attorney at the National Center for Youth Law (NCYL) agreed, saying, “this is a modest bill. It holds people accountable, but it also recognizes that at ages 15, 16, 17, that they have a capacity to change.”
A coalition of youth advocate organizations, including the NCYLNational and Human Rights Watch, have supported the bill along with a diverse following of child advocates, faith-based communities, mental health experts and others.
“At the most basic level the sentence of LWOP for those convicted under 18 years old… is clearly in violation of international law,” said Elizabeth Calvin, Senior Advocate for Human Rights Watch and LWOP Coordinator. “I think we’re at a point in time where the community doesn’t think over-incarceration is the way to go.”
Outside the United States just seven people are known to be serving life without parole for crimes committed while they were still a juvenile, according to a Human Rights Watch report. By comparison the United States currently houses more than 2,300 such inmates with no chance of parole.
A group of criminal justice organizations in the state have raised opposition to the new measure. In a letter to lawmakers the California District Attorneys Association raised concerns about the specific sentence recall process:
“Under one scenario contemplated by the measure, a petitioner found by the court to have been under the age of 18 at the time of the offense that resulted in his or her LWOP sentence could qualify for a resentencing hearing solely on the basis that the petitioner has performed acts that tend to indicate rehabilitation, or the potential for rehabilitation, or has shown evidence of remorse. Creating the potential for an LWOP sentence to be reduced by setting such a low standard for eligibility is an affront to justice and disrespectful of the victims of these crimes.”
Ten other organizations, including the Crime Victims Action Alliance and the California Association of Highway Patrolmen, have opposed the bill along with “one private individual” according to Assembly Bill Analysis records.
Under the current law judges and prosecutors have the discretion to pursue LWOP cases against juveniles, but a number of such instances have called their judgment into question. Some experts also point out that the harshness of sentences can simply come down to local jurisdiction.
“In California, the decision to impose an LWOP sentence on a youth is significantly influenced by which county they reside in,” said Selena Teji, Communications Specialist with the Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice. “A youth is more likely to receive harsher punishment if they live in Kern County, than if they had committed that same crime in San Francisco County. It’s a system of justice by geography.”
Other supporters of the legislation also say the measure could correct racial disparities that have become apparent in the last few decades.
"We're talking about children, especially children of color, who are sentenced to die in prison,” Sumayyah Waheed, director of the Books Not Bars program at the Ella Baker Center in Oakland. “It's bad policy, immoral, and it's way past time for California to allow youth one tiny step toward redemption. California can and must do better by its children."
California’s law permitting a life without parole sentence for juveniles was enacted in 1990. Since that time African Americans in the state have received the LWOP sentence at a rate of 18 times that of whites, earning the state the worst record in the nation for racial disparity in LWOP sentencing.
According to the Human Rights Watch report “When I Die, They’ll Send Me Home” life without parole isn’t reserved for those youth that committed the most heinous crimes. Forty-five percent of juveniles sentenced to LWOP in California were sentenced for involvement in a murder they didn’t actually commit. Many were convicted of murder charges for aiding and abetting a murder or getting involved in another felony crime, such as a robbery, when a murder took place. Nationally, roughly 59 percent of juveniles sentenced to LWOP had no prior offenses.
California’s SB 9 was approved by the Assembly Public Safety Committee with a 5-2 vote in early July. Next the bill will continue to the Assembly Appropriation Committee before being put to a vote on the floor of the Assembly. The bill cleared the Senate in June with a 21-16 vote.
“We’re pretty optimistic,” said Calvin. “The bill could still fail, but we’re hopeful.”
In 2009 a similar bill failed to clear the Assembly by two votes. SB 9 likely won’t come to a vote until late August or early September, following the Assembly’s summer recess.
|Human Rights Watch, Children's Rights Division (Sponsor)
Alliance for a Better District 6
American Civil Liberties Union
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
American Probation and Parole Association
American Psychiatric Association
Bar Association of San Francisco
Books Not Bars (An Ella Baker Center for Human Rights Campaign)
Buddhist Peace Fellowship
California Attorneys for Criminal Justice
California Catholic Conference, Inc.
California Church Impact
California Coalition for Women Prisoners
California Committees United Institute
California Mental Health Directors Association
California National Organization for Women
California Psychiatric Association
California Public Defenders Association
California-Nevada Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church
Californians United for a Responsible Budget
Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth
Center for Global Law & Justice at University of San Francisco
School of Law
Center for Juvenile Law and Policy at Loyola Law School
Child Welfare League of America
Children's Advocacy Institute
Children's Defense Fund
Disability Rights California
Disability Rights Legal Center
District Attorney, City and County of San Francisco
Equal Justice Initiative
Feminist Majority & National Center for Women and Policing
Friends Committee on Legislation of California
Healing Justice Coalition
Human Rights Advocates
International Community Corrections Association
John Burton Foundation for Children Without Homes
Just Detention International
Justice Policy Institute
Juvenile Law Center
Law Offices of the Los Angeles County Alternate Public Defender
Legal Services for Children
Legal Services for Prisoners with Children
Life Support Alliance
Los Angeles County Democratic Party
Lutheran Office of Public Policy - California
NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc.
National African American Drug Policy Coalition, Inc.
National Alliance on Mental Illness California
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Center for Youth Law
Office of Restorative Justice of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles
Pacific Juvenile Defender Center
Post-Conviction Law Justice Project at University of Southern
California Gould School of Law
Prison Law Office
Progressive Christians Uniting
Public Counsel Law Center
Sacramento Lorenzo Patiflo League of United Latin American
Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange
Southern Poverty Law Center
St. Mark Presbyterian Church, Peace and Justice Commission
The Sentencing Project
United Church of Christ
W. Haywood Burns Institute
Youth Justice Coalition
Youth Law Center
1,879 private individuals
|California Association of Highway Patrolmen
California District Attorneys Association
California Narcotic Officers' Association
California Police Chiefs Association
California State Sheriffs Association
Crime Victims Action Alliance
Crime Victims United of California
Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office
Los Angeles Police Protective League
Peace Officers Research Association of California
Sacramento County District Attorney's Office
One private individual
Source: SB 9 Bill Analysis by the Assembly Committee on Public Safety. July 5, 2011.
Juvenile advocates and researchers in Illinois came together for a one-day workshop to discuss juvenile arrest data from the Austin and Lawndale neighborhoods of Chicago along with the alternatives to incarceration for juvenile offenders.
Austin, Chicago’s largest neighborhood by population, ranked third in total juvenile arrests in 2010. The number of kids under the age of 17 arrested in Chicago has dropped in recent years, according to a report released by the First Defense Legal Aid and Project NIA during the seminar. But advocates say the system hasn’t changed enough and continues to disserve kids on the west side of the city, especially African Americans.
In 2008 African Americans accounted for 78 percent of juvenile arrests in the city of Chicago, Hispanics for 18 percent and whites for just 3.5 percent, according to the same report. Advocates contest the system focuses too much on incarceration and punishment of young offenders and not enough on prevention.
Nationally about 55 percent of juveniles released from incarceration are rearrested within one year. In urban areas recidivism rates tend to be higher, in some cities reaching into the 70-80 percentile, according to a report from Stanford University.
Workshop presenters purposed a number of alternatives including youth jobs programs, mentoring for kids with single parents and working more closely with local police, according to AustinTalks.
Read the full report: “ARRESTING JUSTICE: A Report About Juvenile Arrests in Chicago 2009 & 2010”
If you are concerned about your health, step away from the hookah. The belief that the ornate water pipes are far safer than cigarettes may be going up in smoke. Researchers found that the water in the hookah only filters 5 percent of the nicotine contained in the smoke.
Hookahs are gaining in popularity on college campuses across the country and the American Lung Association is making anti-hookah legislation a top priority.
“Teens and young adults are initiating tobacco use through these hookahs with the mistaken perception that the products are somehow safer or less harmful than cigarettes,” Paul G. Billings, a vice president of the American Lung Association, told the New York Times. “Clearly that’s not the case.”
The danger lies in how hookahs are smoked. Hookah sessions usually last about an hour as hoses attached to the pipe are passed around. In a typical session a smoker could inhale the equivalent of 100 cigarettes while also exposing themselves to tuberculosis and herpes through the communal hoses.
Cities are beginning to take notice, passing ordinances to limit the amount of new hookah bars opening and college campuses are rewriting anti-smoking rules to outlaw hookahs.
To fight the bans, pro-hookah organizations have sprung up on Facebook and former other interest groups.