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USFA urges fire service to support fire-safe cigarette initiatives

The United States Fire Administration (USFA) is urging the US fire service to support fire-safe cigarette initiatives, thus promoting greater home fire safety
USFA is urging the US fire service to support fire-safe cigarette initiatives

Fire-safe cigarettes lessen risk of home fire deaths

Smoking is the leading cause of home fire fatalities in the United States, despite the fact that the numbers of smokers continue to decline.

The victims of the fires are not only the smokers but their children, spouses or partners, and even neighbors or friends.

On top of the human tragedy, millions of dollars of property is damaged or destroyed by cigarette fires each year.

The United States Fire Administration's (USFA) National Fire Data Center reported these 2007 estimates for residential fires related to smoking-materials:

  • 18,900 residential fires
  • 595 residential fire deaths
  • 1,200 residential fire injuries
  • $327 million in residential property loss

A promising effort to diminish the loss of life and property caused by smoking-material fires is the development of the fire-safe cigarette. Technically referred to as reduced ignition propensity cigarettes, they are designed to reduce the probability of a cigarette burning through its paper wrapper.

This minimizes the risk of the cigarette igniting materials if it is accidentally dropped or left on a flammable or combustible surface. Behaviors associated with smoking-material fires, such as falling asleep, impairments from alcohol or drug use, and age emphasize the importance of fire-safe cigarettes.

New York was the first state to adopt fire-safe cigarette legislation in 2004. As of August 31, 2009, an additional twenty-nine states, plus the District of Columbia, require any cigarettes being sold to meet the fire-safe standard.

New York reports an estimated 33 per cent reduction in fire fatalities due to smoking-material fires since they started collecting the data. However, it is still too early to see a statistical trend in all states that have adopted the legislation.

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