Smokescreen that hides killer in the home: as momentum builds to introduce reduced ignition propensity cigarettes, FIRE investigates how much more can be done as an unlikely alliance of government, the Fire Service, fire industry and trade unions begins to take shape to challenge every aspect of the smoking culture.(Fire-Safe Cigarettes)

THERE COMES A POINT IN EVERY controversial issue that a consensus starts to emerge. Opposing sides compromise and all agree to modify their stance and make that compromise deal Sometimes one side can compromise more than the other.

Take reduced ignition propensity (RIP) cigarettes for example. But when governments, industry and the trades unions agree on a single issue and have the same view, alarm bells ring.

While no one doubts that reducing the number of fires in the home will reduce the numbers of deaths sceptics may say that by focussing on such a small aspect of the ills that are associated with smoking the metaphorical forest is being obscured by the wood.

In fact, cynics may see this as an attempt by a pariah industry to seek a positive publicity in the face of all evidence that smoking kills millions worldwide each year. Reducing the number of fire deaths in the UK by 50-70 each year will enable the PSA targets to be easily met, but in terms of the wider social impact that could be seen as insignificant.

Support For RIP Cigarettes

There are two aspects to consider when reviewing the current enthusiasm for RIP cigarettes. The first and foremost are the widely quoted statistics that support the assertion that up to a third of fire deaths can be attributed to the misuse of smoking materials. This may be true but there are a number of factors that should be considered before drawing such inferences.

Firstly, the investigation of fires cannot always be an exact science. If eight per cent of all dwelling fires are caused by smoking materials yet a third of all deaths are so caused, it is reasonable to assume that the order of magnitude of destruction in most fatal fires is different, generally much more severe. …

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