BackgroundTobacco smoking is the second leading cause of death and is closely linked to fatal diseases. Hookah Smoking (HS) is a traditional way to smoke tobacco, especially in the Eastern Mediterranean region that is constantly rising around the world. This study aimed to evaluate the different levels of personal, interpersonal and social HS in Iranian urban men and determine the most important predictors of the levels through applying the socio-ecological approach (SEA).MethodsThis study was conducted in the coffee houses of Hashtrud and Qarah Aghaj counties in East Azerbaijan, Iran. Data collection was conducted from the entire coffee house (n = 18) from April to June 2017. Systematic sampling was employed to recruit 266 men in the coffee house. A valid and reliable instrument was used to investigate the frequency of HS and its determinants based on SEA. The SEA consists of three levels: personal (age, education, employment, income, and perceived severity and sensitivity), interpersonal (perceived reward), and social level (social support) intended to assess HS determinants. Hierarchical regression was used to determine the predictive value of SEA levels and frequency of HS.ResultsThe mean age of daily hookah smokers (once per day and more than once per day) were (26.8) significantly lower than those (30.4) smokes weekly (once a week or more than once a week). The hierarchical logistic regression model showed that in the first step individual variables significantly predict 25.1% HS. In the second and third level interpersonal and social levels of SEA explained HS 30.1 and 30.8%, respectively.ConclusionThis study found that age, income, education, and perceived reward were all important factors influencing HS among men youth. Application of SEA to determine the factors associated with HS could contribute in the development of a holistic prevention program.