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Cigar Smoking Injuries and Dangers

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tobacco use remains the single most preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the U.S. Cigarette smoking kills an estimated 480,000 people each year. Thousands more suffer tobacco-related injuries from smoking cigars or inhaling secondhand cigar smoke.

Here, we'll discuss the dangers associated with cigar smoking. We'll also explain whether cigar manufacturers are liable for injuries caused by cigars, cigarillos, and secondhand smoke.

Cigar Smoking Dangers

Most people, including cigar smokers, are well aware of the adverse health effects of tobacco products. It is easy to blame the smoker for any injuries or illnesses they suffer due to cigar smoking. However, just because consumers know these products are dangerous does not relieve cigar companies from liability.

The most common adverse side effects of cigars and other tobacco products include:

  • Benzene Exposure: Benzene is a colorless liquid with a sweet odor. Cigar smoke contains benzene. In high doses, benzene can be hazardous. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the CDC have both stated that benzene exposure can cause cancer. The two most common types of cancer caused by benzene are leukemia and non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
  • Cancer: According to the National Cancer Institute, cigar smokers experience higher levels of cancer-causing agents as compared to cigarette smokers. Higher concentrations of cancer-causing agents exist during cigar fermentation. Because cigar paper is less porous, smokers ingest a higher concentration of toxic substances. Some of the more common cancers cigar smokers experience include oral cancer, throat cancer, esophageal cancer, pancreatic cancer, and lung cancer.
  • Heart and Lung Disease: It is true that most cigar smokers don't inhale. This means that they are at a lower risk of heart disease than cigarette smokers. However, that doesn't mean there isn't an increased risk of these illnesses.

Aside from these common illnesses, there are other potential injuries cigar smokers face. According to the American Cancer Society, some of these include:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Cancer of the larynx
  • Lung cancer
  • Lung disease
  • Emphysema
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Gum disease and tooth loss
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cancer of the esophagus

While oral cancer may harm smokers, people who encounter secondhand smoke are also at risk of adverse health effects.

Why Are Cigars Dangerous?

Cigars can contain a higher level of cancer-causing substances compared to cigarettes. High concentrations of cancer-causing nitrosamines develop during the fermentation process for cigar tobacco.

Nitrosamines are at higher levels in cigar smoke than in cigarette smoke. Cigar smoke also contains higher levels of tar than cigarette smoke. Cigar smoke contains a host of known toxins, including:

  • Carbon monoxide
  • Nicotine
  • Hydrogen cyanide
  • Ammonia
  • Volatile aldehydes

Cigar smoke also contains these cancer-causing agents, also called carcinogens:

  • Benzene
  • Aromatic amines (especially carcinogens such as 2-naphthylamine and 4-aminobiphenyl)
  • Vinyl chloride
  • Ethylene oxide
  • Arsenic
  • Chromium
  • Cadmium
  • Polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons

All these factors make cigar smoke potentially hazardous.

Are Premium Cigars Safer?

Some people assume that certain types of cigars are safer than others. For instance, many smokers believe that premium cigars are less dangerous than inexpensive ones, but this is incorrect. All cigars are harmful. If you smoke large cigars, they will be more hazardous than smaller cigars. The same is true for other tobacco products, such as chewing tobacco and e-cigarettes.

Premium cigars present similar health risks to those of regular cigars. Anybody who smokes cigars should consider smoking cessation programs so they can quit smoking, even if just for cancer prevention purposes.

Federal Warning Labels: Cigars

Cigar smoking is so dangerous that federal law requires manufacturers to put black-box warnings on every package of cigars. The warnings are direct about cigar smoking and tobacco dangers.

According to federal law, cigar labels must explicitly say "Surgeon General's Warning" along with at least one of the following warnings:

  • Cigar smoking can cause cancers of the mouth and throat, even if you do not inhale.
  • Cigars are not a safe alternative to cigarettes.
  • Tobacco smoke increases the risk of lung cancer and heart disease, even in nonsmokers.
  • Cigar smoking can cause lung cancer and heart disease.
  • Tobacco use increases the risk of infertility, stillbirth, and low birth weight.

It would be odd to find a package of cigars that didn't contain this language. You may have a potential legal claim if you purchase a package of cigars that doesn't contain the required language. It depends on whether you suffer harm and if your attorney can prove that your damage was due to the lack of warnings.

Cigar Companies' Legal Responsibilities

Over the years, cigar smokers have sued cigar companies for injuries caused by their products. Of course, cigar manufacturers argue that plaintiffs' cigar use is voluntary. In cigar lawsuits, the manufacturers assert that smokers are well aware of the health problems associated with tobacco products.

The plaintiffs who prevail often file cases due to false labeling and advertising for tobacco products. A primary example is a widespread civil racketeering case the U.S. government filed against major American tobacco companies.

The government filed the lawsuit back in 1999. The civil complaint named the following companies as defendants, along with others:

  • R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company
  • Philip Morris USA Inc.
  • ITG Brands, LLC

It wasn't until 2004-2005 that the case went to trial. Nearly twenty years later, in 2022, the State and the defendants agreed on a remedy. Per the agreement, all retailers in the U.S. who sell tobacco products, with a focus on cigarettes, must post prominent displays including the following corrective language:

  • Smoking causes several diseases and kills more than 1,200 people every day in the U.S.
  • Nicotine is addictive, and cigarettes and tobacco products intentionally sustain this addiction.
  • Light and low-tar cigarettes are no safer than regular cigarettes.
  • Secondhand smoke also causes death and disease.

The agreement states that retailers must maintain these signs until July 2025.

Your Legal Rights

If you or a loved one are suffering from smoking-related injuries from cigars, you may receive significant compensation. However, it is difficult for individual plaintiffs to prevail in cases against Big Tobacco. These companies have legal teams that have spent decades defending against civil lawsuits.

The factors your product liability attorney will consider when reviewing your claim include:

  • Whether you and your loved ones can demand compensation for current and future medical expenses
  • Whether you and your loved ones can recover lost wages from missed time at work and other out-of-pocket expenses
  • Whether cigar smoking injuries entitle you and your loved ones to recover damages for pain and suffering

Every case is different. There's no way to determine the damages you may demand in your lawsuit. It's best to meet with an experienced personal injury lawyer who can help answer this question.

Getting Legal Help

If you or a loved one have an illness and you believe cigar smoke caused these injuries, contact a healthcare professional at once. Once you've spoken with your doctor, consult a product liability lawyer to learn more about obtaining compensation for your injuries.

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