Where There Is Smoke There Is Fire. by Steve Chase
“Every year, almost 1,000 smokers and non-smokers are killed in home fires caused by cigarettes and other smoking materials. The U.S. Fire Administration is working to help prevent home fire deaths and injuries caused by smoking materials. Fires caused by cigarettes and other smoking materials are preventable.” link USFA
“A SAFER APPROACH TO SMOKING
Because lighted tobacco materials fires are severe in terms of the injury and property loss they cause, significant attention has been given to finding a safer cigarette in terms of the fire risk. Traditional cigarettes burn continuously, even when unattended. Efforts have been made to design a fire-safe cigarette, one that is designed to extinguish itself when not being actively smoked. Changes in the cigarette dimensions, density of tobacco, paper porosity, and additives may reduce the likelihood that a safe cigarette will ignite bedding or soft furnishings, typical items first ignited in lighted tobacco materials fires.
Legislative measures undertaken in Congress in the 1990s mandated fire-safe cigarette test methods. New York was the first state to investigate making fire-safe cigarettes available to its residents, and in 2004 New York passed a law requiring the sale of fire-safe cigarettes. Meanwhile, the Cigarette Fire Safety Act of 2004 was introduced to both houses of the U.S. Congress, and then again to the U.S. Senate in 2005.” link USFA
With only 4% of residential fires resulting in such high proportions of fire casualties, more attention needs to be given to preventing fires caused by lighted tobacco materials. Fires attributed to smoking materials tend to lead the list of causes in fire fatalities each year.…Additional public fire safety education programs, along with strict government mandates for safer cigarettes, could help improve the situation. link USFA
I perused the websites of FEMA and its division The U.S. Fire Administration expecting to find their take on the potential benefits that electronic cigarettes could bring to smoking related home fire prevention. I was stunned to find nothing. Not even the word ‘electronic cigarette’ popped up in the search engine on their website. Surely the problem must be my limited expertise in computer skills so I called the U.S. Fire Administration to get some help.
The first person I talked with had no idea what an electronic cigarette was and referred me to someone in another department that would know the answers to my questions. I was connected with a gentleman who told me that there is no guideline for electronic cigarettes and that there was no mention of them in any of their literature or website. I asked why not?…he said that he did not know but he would investigate a get back to me…Right…I was about to explode but did manage to calm down and start over by asking him if he knew what an electronic cigarette was? He said that as a matter of fact he had just seen a local news report on them…I said that was great and asked what had he learned?… he said that electronic cigarettes were not approved by FDA. The FDA? What in the world does the FDA have to do with fire prevention in regards to the electronic cigarette? His response was that congress allocates money specifically to different departments and one department can’t step on the toes of another. He said that it could be that since the FDA is in charge of classifying electronic cigarettes it could take it out of the hands of The U.S.Fire Administration.
Obviously I was dealing with the wrong individual so I dug a little deeper and found a Public Information Officer for the agency. Surely someone at this division would know about policy regarding electronic cigarettes. Again I was told that there is no policy and the excuse given this time was that the technology is too “new”. I told him that I found that very hard to believe since the product has been widely available since 2006. I was told that I was the first person to ever bring the subject up to the agency. He said he would investigate and get right back to me…WOW again!
The bottom line:
Hello…anybody home at FEMA and its division The U.S. Fire Administration? Your wish for a safer cigarette arrived in the USA in 2006 with the electronic cigarette. You would think that after a hundred years of lackluster successes and mountains of money spent on this problem the politicians and bureaucrats would be building a monument to Hon Lik for coming up with an almost perfect solution. I would be willing to bet that when or if they get around to considering the electronic cigarette, the potential to save lives will be mentioned but the ANTZ and the media will be screaming that they have not been studied long enough to be scientifically safe.