Smoking, vaping and e-cigarettes

Every six days, someone in the UK will die from a fire started by a cigarette.

Although we only attend about 40 smoking-related house fires every year, these fires are still more likely to cause death and injury than any other house fire.

Smoking is the most common cause of fatal fires, resulting in one in five deaths.

The best way to protect yourself and others from the dangers of smoking at home is to smoke outside. Not only are you reducing the risk of a fire, but you’re also making sure your home environment is cleaner and healthier too.

A single lit cigarette with a grey, dark background and a pile of ash below it.

How can I keep safe from smoking?

Here are six ways to reduce the risk of fire from smoking:

  1. Only smoke outside. If you insist on smoking inside, take extra care and never smoke in bed as you could fall asleep and set fire to the bed.
  2. Properly extinguish cigarettes, cigars and pipes when you’ve finished smoking.
  3. Don’t leave lit cigarettes, cigars and pipes unattended. They can easily over-balance as they burn down and set things alight.
  4. Use an ashtray that won’t tip over easily and isn’t made of material that can burn.
  5. Empty ashtrays often, and wet the contents before putting them in a bin outside your home. Never tip the ash into a bin inside your house.
  6. Keep lighters and matches out of children’s reach. You can buy child-resistant lighters and matchboxes.

Can e-cigarettes start a fire?

Although dropping an e-cigarette or vape won’t cause a fire, electrical elements like chargers have caused fires.

When buying e-cigarettes and vapes, make sure that you:

  • check that the output voltage and ratings marked on the charger and the electrical device (battery) are the same
  • look for a manufacturer’s brand name or logo, model and batch number
  • check that the name and address of the producer that comes with the product is an address within the European Union
  • check for a CE mark, but don’t rely on this alone to guarantee a product’s safety. A CE mark is a declaration from the manufacturer that the product is safe, but like all markings, it can be forged
  • make sure that instructions on how to use the product safely, conditions and limitations of use and how to safely dispose of the product are included
  • avoid buying counterfeit or substandard goods.

What to do if there’s a fire

  1. Get out of the building, closing any doors behind you.

  2. Stay out of the building.

  3. Call 999 and ask for the fire service.