Posted tagged ‘environment’

Smoking Hookah May Be More Harmful Than Smoking Cigarettes

June 8, 2012



(June 7, 2012) One in three college students has smoked hookah. The hookah is a beautiful, decorative piece of polished brass. It is used for smoking when friends get together, and to relax and socialize.


Hookah is also known as narghile, shisha, and goza. It is a water pipe with a smoke chamber, a bowl, a pipe, and a hose. Specifically-made tobacco is heated, and the smoke passes through water and is then drawn through a rubber hose to a mouthpiece. The tobacco is no less toxic in a hookah pipe, and the water in the hookah does not filter out the toxic ingredients in the tobacco smoke. Hookah smokers may actually inhale more tobacco smoke than cigarette smokers do because of the large volume of smoke they inhale in one smoking session, which can last as long as 60 minutes.


Hookah bars have become popular around the country for the last decade. “It usually attracts 18-20 year olds”, says Lance Freeman, of The Egyptian Café and Hooka Bar in Indianapolis, Indiana. “We are a place to come for people who can’t go to bars.”


The problem is that smoking hookah is still dangerous because it delivers the same chemical compounds as smoking cigarettes. One session (from 45-60 minutes) delivers about 100 times the smoke as a single cigarette, with 40 times the tar and 10 times the carbon monoxide. While research about hookah smoking is still emerging, evidence shows that it poses many dangers.


Hookah smoke contains high levels of toxic compounds, including tar, carbon monoxide, heavy metals, and cancer-causing chemicals (carcinogens). In fact, hookah smokers are exposed to more carbon monoxide and smoke than are cigarette smokers.


As with cigarette smoking, hookah smoking is linked to lung and oral cancers, heart disease, and other serious illnesses.


Hookah smoke delivers about the same amount of nicotine as cigarette smoking does, possibly leading to tobacco dependence. Hookah smoke poses dangers associated with second hand smoke. Hookah smoking by pregnant women can result in low birth weight babies.


Hookah pipes used in hookah bars and cafes may not be cleaned properly, risking the spread of infectious diseases.


Dr. Brian Primack conducted a study which was published in the June issue of the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research, which found that 1 in 3 current college students has smoked hookah at some point; more than 50% of those students were not cigarette smokers.


Primack said that while he was giving a lecture on the dangers of smoking at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, a student interrupted him. “He said, ‘No offense, but nobody really smokes anymore – we all do this hookah thing instead.’” That very moment started Primack’s research into the hookah world. “It’s a very interesting public health puzzle. The same chemicals – in one form are reviled by many people; but the same people will go across the street and take it in this difficult format.”


Better education is needed, Primack has said, to show similarities between hookah smoking and cigarette smoking. In a previous study, the research found 92% of videos on You Tube showed hookah in a positive light, compared to just 24% of cigarette videos. The population that participates in hookah smoking tends to be younger, male and white, but is found across all characters.


The researchers do not know yet if hookah is addictive. Smokers inhale twice the amount of nicotine in one hookah session as they do with a single cigarette, but long-term studies need to be done to see if it interferes with their life in the same way.


U.S. Supreme Court Blocks Asbestos Lawsuit

March 3, 2012

(March 3, 2012) The U.S. Supreme Court has made it more difficult for victims of asbestos exposure to file suit under state laws.  On Wednesday, in a 6 – 3 opinion, the justices ruled that railroad maintenance workers couldn’t file lawsuits against locomotive equipment manufacturers for alleged asbestos-related injuries. This is because they were preempted by the federal Locomotion Inspection Act (formerly known as the Boiler Inspection Act of 1911).  The problem is, in 1911, they did not know the dangers of asbestos.

This week, the Supreme Court ruled that they would not redefine the preempted field. The court did not distinguish between hazards arising from repair and maintenance as opposed to those arising from actual use of asbestos on the line.

In the late 19th century and early 20th century, asbestos was considered an ideal material for the construction industry. It was known to be an excellent fire retardant, to have high electrical resistance, and was inexpensive and easy to use. The problem was, asbestos arises when the fibers become airborne and are inhaled. Because of the sizes of the fibers, the lungs cannot expel them. They are also sharp and penetrate tissues. Health problems attributed to asbestos include:  1) asbestosis, which is scarring of the lung tissue, which can become so severe, that the lungs can no longer function. The latency period is 10-20 years, 2) mesothelioma, which is cancer of the mesothelial lining of the lungs, although not associated with smoking. Latency period is 20-50 years. Most patients die within 12 months of diagnosis, 3) cancer of the lung, GI tract, kidney and larynx have been linked to asbestos. The latency period is 15-30 years. 4) diffuse pleural thickening.

When a mesothelioma victim or a victim of asbestosis files a state-law personal injury lawsuit, it is claiming that the manufacturers of asbestos products knew the dangers associated with asbestos and did nothing to protect these victims. There is a need for judges to discuss the problem of asbestos litigation, the biggest, single-tort crisis in American history. America’s courts are buried under all these asbestos cases, of which only one quarter is legitimate, asbestos-related injuries.

Unfortunately, as mesothelioma litigation began, so did litigation involving pleural plaque, which is a generic scarring of the lungs with many possible causes.  The courts were clogged with cases.  Accordingly, cases involving severely injured “traditional plaintiffs,” which accounted for approximately ¾ of expenditures, as well as cases of marginal asbestosis, infiltrated the courts.  The pressure to slow the lawsuits down and to reduce the costs involved had the devastating effect of going too far to protect the defendants.

Accordingly, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision will have serious negative effects on all the families dealing with mesothelioma, asbestosis, and death, in addition to many thousands of dollars in medical bills they are left to pay.  These manufacturers should be held responsible for producing harmful, defective products, which caused the deaths of so many innocent people and ruined so many families.  It is crazy to think that the Locomotive Inspection Act (LIA) from 1911 is still in place today, and supersedes the states’ personal injury laws. The law requires locomotive parts to be in good working order and safe to operate. This law is completely outdated, as are the locomotives that were used in 1911! Congress really needs to make some changes and protect the American people.  This LIA no longer serves public interest and should be repealed. Is this justice?

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