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Last updated: 01/10/2019, 3:32 PM

Smoking remains the top cause of fatal fires despite a fall in the number of smokers

01/10/2019 13:52
London-wide
Safety warnings

‘Stoptober’ launches today, but sadly despite record numbers of people giving up the habit, smoking continues to be the top cause of fatal fires in the home.

More than  a quarter of  fire related deaths between 2014-2018 were due to fires caused by smoking and it continues to be one of the leading causes of fire in the home.

Kick the habit

During ‘Stoptober’ we want smokers to kick the habit. If you're not ready to quit, we recommends vaping instead - it poses far less of a risk from a fire safety point of view. Figures show there are almost 300 times more smoking fires overall than there are vaping fires. 

Too many people dying in fires

London Fire Brigade Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety Dan Daly, said: “It’s great news that the number of people smoking seems to be falling year on year but there are still too many people dying in fires in their homes caused by smoking. 

If you do smoke, there are number of measures you should  take to keep yourself as safe as possible. You could also consider e-cigarettes, which carry a much smaller risk of  fire, although the full extent of the health risks are still being researched.

Stay safe when smoking

We always recommend not smoking, but if you do, you'll find lots of guidance on smoking safely on our smoking pages.

Learn more

Top three tips

If you can't stop smoking make sure you:

  1. Never smoke in bed, and avoid smoking on arm chairs and sofas – especially if you think you might fall asleep.
  2. Use proper ashtrays, which can’t tip over and stub cigarettes out properly.
  3. Don't balance cigars or cigarettes on the edge of an ashtray, or anything else – they can tip and fall as they burn away and cause a fire.

Smoking research

Our research shows that many people who die in smoking-related fires are older people with mobility issues. The advice is, never smoke if you have use healthcare equipment like medical oxygen or an air flow pressure relief mattress. If you use paraffin-based emollient creams, don’t smoke.

Smokers with mobility issues  are also advised to use fire retardant bedding or nightwear. If you are a carer or support worker for someone who smokes, there are signs to look out for that the person you look after might be at risk of injury from fire and steps you can take to reduce the risk.  Telecare is an alarm system that can help people to continue to live independently by allowing someone else – typically a call centre or a relative who lives elsewhere – to make sure a person is safe.

Carers of smokers, or smokers themselves, can book a free home fire safety by visiting our website.