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22 January 2010

One cigarette, one inferno

This dramatic graphic drives the message home: cigarette butts really can cause fires.

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Ever experimented with trying to start a fire using a cigarette? You probably soon gave up and concluded it’s pretty much impossible.

You may even be of the opinion that all the fuss about butts and wildfires is yet another way the smoke Nazis are sticking it to the poor long-suffering smokers.

Unfortunately, improperly extinguished and carelessly tossed cigarette butts can start devastating fires.*

This dramatic graphic gives an idea of just how much mischief one little stompie can get up to. (Click on the image to enlarge):

Poster by Saatchi and Saatchi, 2007, pro bono for the Volunteer Wildfire Services.

- Olivia Rose-Innes, Health24, updated November 2009

*On most days, no, you won't be able to get a fire going with a cigarette butt. It's true that conditions have to be just right: low humidity, wind, the glowing tip at a specific angle to fine, dry fuel... On the other hand, such conditions are not uncommon in a country with one of the highest frequency of wildfires in the world. For more detail on this topic read "Cigarette Butts as Firestarters: Facts and Fallacy".

Sources on the cigarette-fire link:
Leistikow BN, Martin DC, Milano CE. Fire injuries, disasters, and costs from cigarettes and cigarette lights: a global overview. Prev Med 2000; 31(2 Pt 1): 91-99.
National Wildfire Co-ordinating Group. Wildfire origin and cause determination handbook. May 2005.

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