Campaigners call on Euro MPs to reduce fire death toll

Wednesday 10 October 2007
Health campaigners are calling for the introduction of fire safer cigarettes after a house fire tragically killed two newly weds.

On the 7th October the couple in South Tyneside lost their lives in a house fire. Fire investigation officers believe the blaze was started by a discarded cigarette left in the kitchen.

Around 125 people die in smoking-related fires each year [1] and there are a further 1,400 non-fatal injuries as a result of such fires. Cigarettes are the main cause of domestic fire deaths. A government report calculated that the death toll could fall by as much as two thirds if “Reduced Ignition Propensity” (RIP) cigarettes were introduced to the UK.[1]

In Canada and parts of the United States, these ‘fire safer cigarettes’ are already on sale. The cigarettes are designed to extinguish themselves when left unattended as opposed to the current types that continue to burn.

A recent poll shows that 80% of people surveyed in the North East of England favoured cigarettes that extinguished themselves when left unattended and only 7% opposed the idea. 58% of smokers were also in favour [2].

Martin Dockrell, of the RIP Coalition said:

““Tragedies like this could so easily be avoided. For the extra cost of a couple of pennies per packet with no change in taste and no extra additives, RIP cigarettes would prevent two out of three cigarette fire deaths.”

The RIP Coalition, an alliance of fire fighters, health campaigners and burn victims, is calling on MEPs to back a European Union plan for fire safer cigarettes [3]. The website is


Notes and links:
[2] YouGov Poll for Asthma UK, British Thoracic Society and Action on Smoking & Health. Total sample size was 1,532 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 22nd – 28th August 2007. The survey was carried out online.
[3] From the 29th to 30th November 2007 the committee of the General Product Safety Directive is due to discuss the implementation of RIP cigarettes. The Smoke Free Partnership will be present at the European parliament to sign up to the written declaration 66/2007, between 10th and 11th October 2007, to ensure MEP support for the RIP standard.

Contact: Martin Dockrell 020 7739 5902 (w) ISDN available
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