Cigar Smoking Injuries and Dangers
Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors | Last reviewed June 20, 2016
Tobacco use remains the single most preventable cause of disease, disability and death in the U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While cigarette smoking kills an estimated 443,000 people each year, thousands also suffer tobacco-related injuries from smoking cigars or second-hand cigar smoke. Read on to learn more about the dangers associated with cigar smoking and the legal issues involved.
Cigar Smoking Dangers
Smoking kills more people than alcohol, AIDS, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders, and suicides combined, with thousands more dying from chewing tobacco use. It harms nearly every organ in the body, particularly the lungs and heart. Cigar smoking has been attributed to causing cancer of the lungs, larynx, esophagus, and oral cancers. Cigar smoke also increases a person's risk for coronary artery disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or breathing problems. Cigars pose a particular hazard to the user's voice box, mouth, and esophagus. One study compared cigar smokers to non-smokers, and found that cigar smokers who inhaled deeply:
- Are 7 times more likely to die from oral cancer
- Are 39 times more likely to die from cancer of the larynx
- Have a risk of dying from pancreatic cancer 3 times higher than non-smokers
- Have a risk of dying from bladder cancer 4 times higher than non-smokers
Cigars can contain a higher level of cancer-causing substances compared to cigarettes. High concentrations of cancer-causing nitrosamines are produced during the fermentation process for cigar tobacco. These compounds are released when a cigar is smoked. Nitrosamines are found 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
- Hydrogen cyanide
- Volatile aldehydes
Cigar smoke also contains these cancer-causing agents, also called carcinogens:
- Aromatic amines (especially carcinogens such as 2-naphthylamine and 4-aminobiphenyl)
- Vinyl chloride
- Ethylene oxide
- Polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons
All these factors make cigar smoke potentially hazardous, not only to smokers themselves, but also to second-hand smokers who may not be able to avoid inhaling smoke from cigars.
Federal Warning Labels: Cigars
Cigar smoking is so dangerous and deadly that federal law requires warnings on every package of cigars. The warnings are direct about cigar smoking and tobacco dangers. Cigar labels say "SURGEON GENERAL'S WARNING" and 1 of the 5 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.
Medical Treatment Costs for Injuries Caused by Smoking Cigars
The financial cost of medical treatment for tobacco-related injuries from smoking cigars, and the ongoing healthcare cost of treating cigar-caused cancers, coronary artery disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) are staggering. Many tobacco-related illnesses like lung cancer are fatal, and only get progressively worse over time. The costs associated with getting treatment, medication, and chronic care can be an enormous financial burden for smokers and their families. Physical injury isn’t the only one aspect of smoking-related trauma. The mental trauma that cigar smoking victims experience from cancers caused by tobacco can also be significant and costly.
Your Legal Rights
If you or a loved one experienced smoking-related injuries from cigars, you may be entitled to compensation for current and future expenses, in addition to special legal damages. An attorney can help you review legal factors, such as:
- Whether you and your loved ones may be entitled to compensation for current and future medical and treatment expenses;
- If you and your loved ones can recover lost wages from work, and other out-of-pocket expenses stemming from smoking cigars; and
- Whether cigar smoking injuries may entitle you and your loved ones to recover damages for pain and suffering.
Getting Legal Help
Scores of product liability, wrongful death, and personal injury lawsuits have been filed by cigarette smokers and their families against tobacco companies over the last three decades. Given the toxins and cancer causing agents in cigars, cigar smokers should be concerned about their legal rights if they’re injured by smoking. If you or a loved one has suffered an illness or injury that might be caused by cigar smoke, you should first contact your doctor or other healthcare professional. Once you’ve spoken with your doctor, you may also want to consult with a product liability lawyer in order to learn more about obtaining compensation for your injuries.
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Contact a qualified product liability attorney to make sure your rights are protected.