Smoking Materials Leading Cause of Fire Death

For Immediate Release: October 6, 2003

Contact: Karen Garbarino
Tobacco Control Chief
Vermont Department of Health
802-951-4004
kgarbar@vdh.state.vt.us

Mark Ray
Kelliher Samets Volk
802-862-8261
mray@ksvc.com

BURLINGTON—Smoking materials such as matches, cigarette ashes, cigarette butts, lighters, and ashtrays are the leading cause of deadly fires in Vermont.

“Smokers are seven times more likely than nonsmokers to have a fire in their house,” said Burlington Battalion Chief Terry Francis, who serves as the city’s fire marshal.

Nationwide, the National Fire Protection Association reports that in1999 there were 167,700 fires that were associated with smoking materials. These preventable fires resulted in 807 deaths, 2,193 injuries and $559.1 million in property damage.

“Quitting smoking eliminates the possibility of starting a fatal fire,” said Commissioner of Health Dr. Paul Jarris, MD, MBA. “National Fire Prevention Week is a great time for Vermonters to contact the Vermont Quit Line so that they can get help kicking the tobacco habit.”

To commemorate National Fire Prevention Week (October 5-11), the Vermont Department of Health reminds Vermonters that almost three-quarters of the fires caused by smoking materials are the result of an abandoned or carelessly discarded cigarette.

To keep yourself, your friends and family safe, remember to:

Quitting smoking is one of the healthiest lifestyle changes a person can make, but it is also one of the most difficult. It takes most smokers five to seven attempts before they are able to quit successfully. Services such as the Vermont Quit Line are available to help all Vermonters beat these odds. Vermonters who want to learn more about the resources available can call the Vermont Quit Line toll-free at 1-877-YES-QUIT, or 1-877-937-7848.

According to the Vermont Department of Health, approximately 96,000 adult Vermonters smoke, and an estimated 1,000 die annually from smoking-related diseases, including heart disease and cancer. The Vermont Department of Health aims to cut the number of adult Vermont smokers in half by 2010.