Not Smoking In The Home Prevents Fires, Protects Health


October 19, 2022

Dear Editor,

October is Fire Prevention Month. This is a good time to check your fire extinguishers and smoke detectors, and to make sure your family has a plan for leaving your home in case of a fire.

Another way to stay safe year-round is to eliminate smoking from your home. Not only will this help prevent accidental fire, it also will protect your family members, visitors, and pets from secondhand smoke.

Montana statistics from the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) show cigarettes contributed to at least 38 residential fires in 2020, resulting in at least two deaths and $1.3 million in property loss.

Cigarette-caused fires often result when a smoker drops, abandons, or improperly disposes of a smoldering cigarette. A dropped cigarette can lie in furniture or bed linens and smolder for up to 45 minutes, causing fire ignition or large amounts of smoke.

Cigarettes and other smoking materials are one of the leading causes of home fire fatalities in the United States. In 2018, these fires caused about 390 deaths and $319 million in property damage nationally, the U.S. Fire Administration reports.

Meanwhile, secondhand smoke causes more than 41,000 deaths in the U.S. per year. No level of secondhand smoke exposure is safe and it is dangerous to your pets, as well as people in your home. The only way to eliminate the risk is not to smoke inside the home.

If you smoke, it’s best to do so outside your home and away from windows and doors so that smoke won’t drift inside. Smoking indoors when others aren’t present or when you’re alone in your car also endangers others, because toxins can seep into drapery, upholstery, carpets, and other surfaces. This is called “thirdhand smoke.”

For more information about reducing smoking risks in your home, visit the Montana Tobacco Use Prevention Program at and click on Smokefree Housing. If you are ready to quit smoking, free help is available to you. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or visit


Rich Cowger

Fire Chief

Columbus Rural Fire

District #3

Montana State Fire Chiefs

Association Board Chair


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