Smoking cigarettes is undoubtedly detrimental to your health and those around you. At the same time, cigarettes also significantly contribute to air pollution due to the smoke and various toxic ingredients contained in them. According to insights on smoking fire safety from the US Fire Administration, national estimates from 2021 indicate 7,800 fires, 275 deaths, 750 injuries, and $361,500,000 in dollar loss from residential building smoking fires.
While we must consider the grievous health effects of cigarettes and smoking, it’s just as important to acknowledge and recognize the fire safety implications of cigarettes. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at cigarettes as a fire risk, their environmental cost, and essential fire prevention tips to keep safe.
Cigarettes as a fire risk
Because traditional cigarettes need fire or heating to function, it’s only sensible that they are an immediate fire hazard — both indoors and outdoors. According to the National Park Service, over 500 smokers and non-smokers are killed in home fires caused by cigarettes and other smoking materials every year. This makes cigarette smoking one of the top fire causes in the US.
Most fires caused by smoking materials start on beds and other flammable furniture or even in the trash. Fire experts recommend using stable, deep ashtrays when you smoke so that it isn’t easily tipped over. This can help prevent fires from starting and catching on flammable materials such as sheets or curtains.
The National Park Service also warns against the hazards of e-cigarettes. While not directly in contact with fire, e-cigarettes can explode and cause fires. This is attributed to a failure in lithium-ion batteries — the leading cause of e-cigarette explosions.
The environmental cost of cigarettes
Most people assume that simply smoking outdoors can help reduce the chances of fire as a result of cigarette smoking. However, outdoor fire safety practices are still crucial to keep in mind. Studies on the disposal of cigarettes and resulting pollution indicate that environmental contamination from cigarette and e-cigarette use can significantly affect human health.
In fact, improper cigarette butts disposal causes an estimated 130,000 fires in the US annually. This results in over $2 billion in firefighting costs and $6 billion in property damage.
Even outdoor campfire cooking — while essential for campers — is done using safe and secure cooking equipment. Experienced campers often warn against leaving fires unattended or letting them burn overnight for fear of catching onto flammable materials like grass and other camping equipment.
Likewise, when smoking, it’s imperative that you put out and discard the cigarettes responsibly. Cigarettes and ashes, for example, should be discarded in unburnable and unmeltable materials. For extra safety, you can also fill ashtrays with sand. Keep in mind that you should never throw cigarettes on the ground — both indoors and outdoors.
Fire prevention tips
As mentioned above, basic fire safety practices like ensuring you put out cigarettes properly and use safely placed ashtrays are essential for fire prevention. Additionally, not throwing cigarettes on the ground can help prevent still-lit cigarettes from starting fires.
Another key fire safety practice is to use smokeless alternatives. Today, these products are more widely available and are much less likely to cause fires than cigarettes — both traditional and electronic. A popular smokeless alternative is the nicotine pouch, which is also tobacco-free, making it a great option for Americans seeking a discreet and smoke-free nicotine experience.
These pouches are used by tucking one between the gum and the top lip. They come in various flavors and nicotine strengths and are easily disposed of. After use, users can remove the pouch and throw it in the trash. Most nicotine pouch brands come in tin cans with a disposal container, so you won’t have to worry about littering.
Finally, other smokeless alternatives include nicotine lozenges, gum, patches, inhalers, and nasal sprays. Together, they are considered safer and less hazardous alternatives to smoking, helping smokers quit. Nicotine lozenges have also become increasingly popular for people who don’t want to chew gum or wear patches.