Real Progress at Curbing Smoking Fires

The NFPA report confirms the predicted 30 percent reduction since 2003 in deaths attributed to smoking-materials fires.

I'm encouraged by a recent report from the National Fire Protection Association's John R. Hall Jr. about the trend in fires caused by smoking materials. While the number of fires and the lives lost in them remain far too high, they are dropping. The total number fell by 73 percent from 1980 to 2011, Hall reported. The report estimates U.S. fire departments responded to 90,000 smoking-materials fires in 2011, and these fires caused an estimated 540 civilian deaths, 1,640 civilian injuries and $621 million in direct property damage.

The long-term decline in these fires is attributed to a decline in smoking, standards and regulations calling for mattresses and upholstered furniture that are more resistant to ignition by smoking materials, and in particular "fire safe" cigarettes. Hall's report said these cigarettes are the main reason for the 30 percent decline in smoking-materials fires from 2003 to 2011. Canada and all U.S. states have passed laws or requirements that all cigarettes sold meet ASTM E2187-09, Standard Test Method for Measuring the Ignition Strength of Cigarettes, meaning they have "reduced ignition strength" -- they're made so they have a greater likelihood of self-extinguishing. (Philip Morris calls them Fire Standards Compliant cigarettes, noting that they are not truly "fire safe.")

In 2003, New York was the first state to enact a law requiring FSC cigarettes. The NFPA chart of nationwide adoption shows it took only seven years for all 50 states and the District of Columbia to put their laws into effect, with Wyoming's effective date of July 1, 2011, the last in line. Hall's report confirms that the predicted 30 percent reduction in deaths attributed to smoking-materials fires once the laws were fully in effect throughout the United States was correct. During the same 2003-2011 period, the number of smokers in the United States declined by just 4 percent, he reported.

"It is good news to see this 30-year low and fewer people dying in smoking-material fires," said Lorraine Carli, NFPA's vice president of Outreach and Advocacy. "Lives were saved and will continue to be saved as a direct result of efforts of the Fire Safe Cigarette Coalition, a group of safety advocates, the fire service, and others who in the past decade joined together to see that fire-safe cigarettes become the standard."

This article originally appeared in the December 2013 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

About the Author

Jerry Laws is Editor of Occupational Health & Safety magazine, which is owned by 1105 Media Inc.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Safety Management Software - Free Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Software’s comprehensive suite of modules help organizations to record and manage incidents, inspections, hazards, behavior based safety observations, and much more. Improve safety with an easy to use tool for tracking, notifying and reporting on key safety data.

  • Create Flexible Safety Dashboards

    IndustrySafe’s Dashboard Module allows organizations allows you to easily create and view safety KPIs to help you make informed business decisions. Our best of breed default indicators can also save you valuable time and effort in monitoring safety metrics.

  • Schedule and Record Observations

    IndustrySafe's Observations module allows managers, supervisors, and employees to conduct observations on employees involved in safety critical behavior. IndustrySafe’s pre-built BBS checklists may be used as is, or can be customized to better suit the needs of your organization.

  • Why Is Near Miss Reporting Important?

    A near miss is an accident that's waiting to happen. Learn how to investigate these close calls and prevent more serious incidents from occurring in the future.

  • Get the Ultimate Guide to Safety Training

    When it comes to safety training, no matter the industry, there are always questions regarding requirements and certifications. We’ve put together a guide on key safety training topics, requirements for certifications, and answers to common FAQs.

  • Industry Safe
comments powered by Disqus

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - June 2019

    June 2019

    Featuring:

    • ASSP SAFETY 2019 PREVIEW
      New Orleans Networking
    • NATION SAFETY MONTH
      Heed These Summer Safety Tips
    • TRAINING
      Education, Skill Development, and Behavior Change
    • SAFETY MANAGEMENT
      What Good Looks Like
    View This Issue

Bulwark Quiz