Hookah Pipes and Water Pipe Smoking Injuries
While cigarette smoking kills an estimated 443,000 people each year, smokers of the traditional Middle Eastern water pipe, known as a "hookah", and those who inhale the second hand smoke, can also suffer tobacco-related injuries.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of disease, disability and death in the U.S.
A hookah, or water pipe, is a tobacco delivery device whose origins can be traced to the Middle East, Asia, and the Orient. Hookah pipes are also known by different names, including narghile, argileh, shisha, hubble-bubble, and goza. One estimate contends that more than 100 million worldwide people smoke water pipes each day.
Although the tobacco used in hookah pipes is generally flavored, and movie images from Star Wars and The Matrix Reloaded suggest that using water pipes is stylish and harmless, researchers have concluded that smoking water pipes may be just as dangerous as smoking cigarettes.
The Dangers of Hookahs and Water Pipe Smoking
According to the U.S. Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention:
- Smoking a water pipe still delivers the addictive drug nicotine, and is at least as toxic as cigarette smoke.
- Due to the mode of smoking-including frequency of puffing, depth of inhalation, and length of the smoking session-hookah smokers may even absorb higher concentrations of the toxins found in cigarette smoke.
- A typical 1-hour-long hookah smoking session involves inhaling 100-200 times the volume of smoke inhaled from a single cigarette.
- Hookah smokers are at risk for the same kinds of cancers and other diseases as those that are caused by cigarette and cigar smoking, including oral cancer, lung cancer, stomach cancer, cancer of the esophagus, reduced lung function, and decreased fertility.
The communal nature of smoking water pipes and hookahs can also transmit infectious communicable diseases and viruses like tuberculosis (TB) and hepatitis.
Compared to typical cigarette smokers, Dr. Christopher Loffredo, the Director of the Cancer Genetics and Epidemiology at Georgetown University, asserts that "compared to the typical cigarette smoker, waterpipe smokers are exposed to larger total amounts of nicotine, carbon monoxide and certain other toxins."
Additionally, because water pipe smokers may be inhaling greater amounts of tobacco smoke in their lungs compared to cigarettes, Loffredo contents that damage from smoking hookahs and water pipes "could be even worse than seen in cigarette smokers, but we haven't done studies long enough to quantify the true cancer risk."
Although it is often fruit-flavored, hookah smoke contains many of the same known toxins (poisons) as cigarettes, including:
- carbon monoxide
- heavy metals like lead, copper, zinc, cadmium, and chromium
- volatile aldehydes (e.g., formaldehyde, the chemical preservative used by morticians to embalm dead bodies )
Although long-term health studies on the cancer risks of water pipe smoking remain scarce, those that do exist suggest that the practice "has a carcinogenic role in a number of body systems," including lung cancer and skin cancers.
Medical Treatment for Injuries Caused by Water Pipe Smoking and Hookah Pipes
The financial cost for treating tobacco-related injuries from hookah pipes, and ongoing healthcare costs for treating related injuries and conditions could be 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 could be an enormous financial burden for water pipe smokers and their families.
Physical injury is not the only one aspect of smoking-related trauma. The mental traumas that smoking victims experience from cancers caused by tobacco can also be significant.
Water Pipe Smoking Injuries and Your Legal Rights
If you or a loved one experienced smoking-related injuries from water pipes and hookahs, you may be entitled to compensation for current and future expenses, in addition to special legal damages.
Some of the legal factors that an attorney can review with you include:
- 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 water pipe smoking and hookahs; and
- Whether water pipe smoking and hookah injuries may entitle you and your loved ones to recover damages for pain and suffering.
Water Pipe and Hookah Smoking Injuries - Getting Legal Help
Scores of product liability, wrongful death, and personal injury lawsuits were filed by smokers and their families against tobacco companies over the last three decades
If you or a loved one has suffered an illness or injury that might be from smoking water pipes or hookahs, you should first contact your doctor or other healthcare professional.
You may also wish to meet with an experienced attorney to discuss your legal options and any potential rights to a legal remedy for any harm caused from the tobacco.