Fires caused by cigarettes are deadly. According to the 2016 Fire in Minnesota Report, while careless smoking accounts for only 3% of structure fires, it caused 25% of known fire fatalities. A multi-unit housing smoke-free policy is an effective way to protect a building and its inhabitants from the risk of smoking-related fires.

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Reduced Fire Risk

Smoking-related fires are usually caused by a dropped cigarette; often by someone who has fallen asleep or may be under the influence of alcohol. A dropped cigarette may lie in furniture or bed linens and could smolder for up to 30-45 minutes. The smoldering cigarette can cause smoke which contains carbon monoxide and other highly toxic gases that can put residents at risk of injury or death.

Apartments account for a larger share of smoking-related fires than any other residential structure. Smoking is the leading cause of residential fire death in Minnesota and around the country. The fatality rate due to a smoking-related fire is nearly four times higher than the overall residential fire rate; injuries are more than twice as likely. In 2009, smoking caused one-quarter (25%) of multi-housing fire deaths in Minnesota. 25% of victims who die in a smoking-related fire are not the smoker whose cigarette started the fire. Children, spouses, neighbors, friends, roommates, firefighters and others may be injured or die in smoking-related fires.

This video (left) is from the Minnesota State Fire Marshal’s 2021 Careless Smoking Campaign. The Fire Marshal’s goal is to reduce the number of fire deaths caused by careless smoking by 30 percent over the next five years.