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The impact of state fire safe cigarette policies on fire fatalities, injuries, and incidents

David H. Folz, PhD, Chris Shults, PhD

Abstract


Cigarettes are a leading cause of civilian deaths in home fires. Over the last decade, state fire service leaders and allied interest groups succeeded in persuading state lawmakers to require manufacturers to sell only low-ignition strength or “fire safe” cigarettes as a strategy to reduce these fatalities and the injuries and losses that stem from them. This article examines whether the states’ fire safe cigarette laws actually helped to save lives, prevent injuries, and reduce the incidence of home fires ignited by cigarettes left unattended by smokers. Controlling for the effects of key demographic, social, economic, and housing variables, this study finds that the states’ fire-safe cigarette policies had significant impacts on reducing the rate of smoking-related civilian fire deaths and the incidence of fires started by tobacco products. The findings also suggest that the states’ fire safe cigarette policies may have helped to reduce the rate of smoking-related fire injuries. The study shows that collective actions by leaders in the fire service across the states can result in meaningful policy change that protects lives and advances public safety even when a political consensus for action is absent at the national level.


Keywords


fire safety, state policy, evaluation

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5055/jem.2017.0346

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