London Fire Brigade

Fire chiefs say new cigarettes could save one life every five days

17 November 2011

Burning cigaretteA revolutionary new type of cigarette could save one life every five days in the UK by cutting the number of fires caused by smoking, according to the London Fire Brigade.

From today, every cigarette made in the EU will have to meet new safety standards so that the cigarette, once lit,  goes out if it is not actively smoked. The new cigarettes have special bands at intervals down the length of the cigarette paper so that they extinguish themselves when they are not puffed on. Fire chiefs estimate they could cut the number of smoking related fires and fire deaths by two thirds.

The careless disposal of smoking materials is the most common cause of fire deaths in the UK. According to latest figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government, in 2008 around 2,800 fires in the UK were caused by smoking materials, 101 people died and 932 were injured. It is estimated the new cigarettes could prevent 1,800 fires, 67 fire deaths and 600 casualties a year in the UK.

The London Fire Brigade was instrumental in the new safety standards being adopted, having lobbied for the change as far back as 2005. If a cigarette does not comply with the legislation trading standards will be able to seize cigarettes and remove them from the market.

Chairman of London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority’s Community Safety Committee, Cllr Susan Hall, said:

“Cigarette fires are a killer, destroying lives and properties across the country every day. These new safety standards amount to an all out attack on the single biggest cause of fire deaths in the country. This small but simple change will slash the likelihood of having a fire caused by cigarette  but people still need to take care. Never smoke in bed and always dispose of cigarettes carefully.

“We have campaigned long and hard for this legislation because it will undoubtedly save lives. Firefighters know how much havoc cigarette fires can cause and these new cigarettes will help keep thousands of people safe. This is a watershed moment for fire safety in the UK.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) UK fire statistics 2008.

DCLG undertook some research into the comparisons of the propensity of fire safer cigarettes and conventional cigarettes to ignite textile materials used in a domestic environment. The research estimated that had cigarettes in the UK conformed to the New York standard (where fire safer cigarettes have already been introduced) in 2003, the number of smoking related fires would have been reduced in that year by nearly two thirds.

The new standard for cigarettes will be published in the Official Journal European Union on 17 November 2011.

In London around one in three of all fatalities in accidental house fires is caused by cigarettes and other smoking materials, while London Fire Brigade is called to around 800 house fires a year which are started in this way.

For further information, visit the Campaign for fire safer cigarettes website.