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Eight people have died in fires related to smoking in London in the last 12 months, new London Fire Brigade data shows.
The new figures have been released to coincide with national No Smoking Day, and the Brigade is continuing to urge people to switch to vaping or better still stop smoking altogether to avoid the risk of dying or being hurt in a fire.
In the last five years, there have been an average of 22 fires every week linked to smoking. Since 2013/14, there have been 5,978 fires in London linked to smoking, 416 people have been injured and a total of 76 people have died.
Dan Daly, the Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, said: “So many of these deaths and injuries could have been prevented either stopping smoking or by switching to vaping.
"We would rather people didn’t smoke at all but if they do, vaping is a safer option. There is a common misconception that vapes are a fire risk but the reality is they have caused a very small number of fires – normally because the device is broken or it’s being charged by a faulty charger. Smoking on the other hand is a killer.
"Common causes of smoking related fires are people falling asleep while smoking or discarding cigarette butts or matches that have not been properly extinguished.”
The people who die in smoking related fires are often the most vulnerable who live alone, including the elderly, those with mobility problems, illnesses, drink or drug dependencies.
Family members, carers and neighbours of those who smoke are also urged to look for early warning signs that someone could be at risk of having a fire related to smoking and ensure that they have working smoke alarms fitted, especially in rooms where they smoke.
Assistant Commissioner Daly added: “Burn marks on carpets, furniture, clothing and bedding are often the first obvious signs that someone could be at risk of a smoking related fire.
“We would urge anyone in contact with smokers who notice these tell-tale signs or has any concerns to request a Home Fire Safety Visit from London Fire Brigade and visit our website for practical advice on how to reduce fire risk.”
Although four times as many people smoke as they do vape, there were almost 300 times more smoking related fires in London than those caused by e-cigarettes in the last five years, meaning vaping is a safer option in terms of reducing the risk of fires. Since 2013/14, there have been a total of 20 fires linked to e-cigarettes.
Vapers are also urged to take extra care and not leave their e-cigarettes on charge while they are not at home or asleep, ensure they always use the correct charger and never charge an e-cigarette if it’s damaged.