October 26, 2010 - A new report released today (October 21st) by the nonprofit National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) shows that the number of smoking-material related fire deaths in the U.S. dropped below 700 in 2008, representing the second lowest level since 1980. While several factors can be credited for the latest decline, NFPA points to new fire-safe cigarette legislation as an important component of the decrease.
A total of 114,800 smoking-material fires resulted in an estimated 680 deaths, 1,520 injuries and $737 billion in direct property damage in 2008. (Smoking materials are defined as lighted tobacco products, but do not include matches or lighters.)
Smoking-material fires have been down by 66% from 1980 to 2008. NFPA’s report (PDF, 257 KB) says this long-term trend is due to fewer people smoking, and to standards and regulations that now require mattresses and upholstered furniture be made with materials more resistant to cigarette ignition, among other factors.
However, the most recent drop in smoking-material fire fatalities can also be attributed to “fire-safe” cigarette legislation, which mandates that cigarettes be produced with reduced ignition strength, and carry a lower propensity for burning when left unattended. NFPA launched the Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes in 2006 with the goal of getting fire-safe cigarettes in every state across the country. Prior to the formation of the Coalition, two states had passed legislation. As of February, all 50 states had passed similar bills. The laws are now in effect in 47 states.
Reference: NFPA announces second lowest level of U.S. smoking-material fire deaths in nearly 30 years Lower fire death rates signal positive impact of national fire-safe cigarette initiative, NFPA News Release, 10/21/2010.