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Faculty & Staff Honors

Faculty & Staff Honors

Florida International Professor Receives Grant from NIDA for Study of Flavored Tobacco on Waterpipe Smokers

FIU Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work professor and researcher Dr. Wasim Maziak, has been awarded Grant Number: 1 R01 DA042477-01 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to pursue his research into the study of flavored tobacco’s effects on waterpipe smokers’ experiences and exposures.

[Photo: Dr. Wasim Maziak]

Waterpipe tobacco smoking (a.k.a. hookah, shisha, narghile) is increasing rapidly in the United States, particularly among young people. Time trends of waterpipe smoking among youth in this country show that waterpipe smoking became comparable to cigarette smoking among high school students for the first time in 2014. Yet evidence suggests that waterpipe smoking can lead to dependence, other tobacco use, and many of the known smoking-related diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease and adverse pregnancy outcomes.

This alarming trend led the Food and Drug Administration to propose including the waterpipe under its regulatory authority, allowing for the application of evidence-based regulatory approaches to control waterpipe usage and spread in the United States.

Given the salience of flavored tobacco in shaping the “waterpipe experience,” regulating waterpipe tobacco flavors represents a promising approach for the FDA to curb waterpipe use among youth. Dr. Maziak’s research aims to assist the FDA in these efforts by providing answers to specific questions pertinent to the potential of waterpipe regulation through flavor. These include: 1. How would flavor manipulation affect the smoking experience of waterpipe users at different stages of their smoking trajectory? 2. How would smoking unflavored waterpipe tobacco reflect on smokers’ exposure to nicotine and dependence? and 3. How would flavor manipulation influence puffing behavior and exposure to toxicants such as carbon monoxide among waterpipe smokers? Answers to these questions will help the FDA predict the impact of flavor regulation on waterpipe experimentation and continued use.

Dr. Maziak is professor and chair of the department of epidemiology. He has extensive experience in tobacco control research and policy, as well as the study of cardiovascular risk factors in developing countries.