Patterns of tobacco smoking and nicotine vaping among university students in the united arab emirates: A cross-sectional study

Luai A. Ahmed, Marina Verlinden, Mariam Ali Alobeidli, Reem Hamad Alahbabi, Radeya Alkatheeri, Basema Saddik, Abderrahim Oulhaj, Rami H. Al-Rifai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Various forms of tobacco smoking and nicotine vaping tools are available on the market. This study quantified the prevalence of and identified factors associated with patterns of smoking and nicotine vaping among university students in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). A cross-sectional sample of students enrolled in three public universities was surveyed. Self-reported current smoking and nicotine vaping were recorded. Of 1123 students, 81.7% completed the online survey (mean age, 20.7 ± 3.4 (SD) years; 70.7% females). The prevalence of current smoking was 15.1% while the prevalence of current nicotine vaping was nearly 4.0%. Among current smokers, 54.7% reported conventional smoking only, 15.1% reported nicotine vaping only, and 28.8% were poly-users. Conventional midwakh (47.5%), followed by conventional shisha/waterpipe (36.7%), conventional cigarettes (36.7%), electronic shisha/waterpipe (25.2%), and electronic cigarettes (24.5%), were most commonly reported by students. Students aged 20–25 years (adjusted odds ratios (aOR): 2.08, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.18–3.67) or >25 years (aOR: 4.24, 95% CI: 1.41–12.80) had higher odds of being current smokers compared to those aged 17–19 years. The male gender was also independently associated with higher odds of being a current smoker (aOR: 5.45, 95% CI: 3.31–8.97) as well as higher odds of smoking cigarettes, shisha, and midwakh, or nicotine vaping compared to being female. Of nicotine vaping users, 36.1% reported using nicotine vaping because they enjoyed the flavor and vaporizing experience and 34.4% used it to help them to quit smoking. A relatively high prevalence of self-reported smoking was reported among university students in the UAE. The findings also suggest that nicotine vaping use is relatively widespread, but still less common than traditional smoking. Vigilant and tailored university-based smoking control and preventive measures are warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7652
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2 2021


  • E-cigarettes
  • Electronic nicotine delivery system
  • Midwakh
  • Smoking
  • United Arab Emirates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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