The Washington State Department of Transportation responds to about 40 brush or grass fires along state highways each year. Responding to roadside fires can cost taxpayers up to $100,000 an acre. The fine for throwing a lit cigarette from a vehicle is $1,025.
But according to the National Fire Protection Agency, upwards of 90,000 fires every year in the United States alone are caused by cigarettes. Cigarette-induced fires claim hundreds of lives in the United States each year, and injure thousands more, not to mention the millions of dollars that go up in smoke in property damage.
- According to the American Burn Association, about 900 people in the United States die each year in fires started by cigarettes, and about 2,500 are injured. About 100 of the fire deaths each year are children and nonsmokers. Nationally, annual human and property costs of fires caused by careless smoking total about $6 billion. In 1997, there were more than 130,000 cigarette related fires.
- According to the National Fire Protection Association, cigarette-caused fires result in more than 1,000 civilian deaths, 3,000 critical injuries (many among firefighters), and $400 million in direct property damage each year. (Source: Albany Times Union, June 13, 2003)
- According to the 2006 U.S. Fire Experience report, there is an estimated fire in an outside property every 38 seconds. Injuries, deaths, and property damages are all results of this problem every year because of the homes nearby in the wildfires path. Overall, smoldering cigarettes are the leading cause of fire deaths in the United States. In 2001 alone, unattended or discarded cigarettes caused 31,200 fires nationwide, resulting in 830 deaths, thousands of serious injuries and $386 million in direct property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Unfortunately, wildlife is a common casualty of this neglect.
- Two of Britain’s worst disasters were caused by lighted fag ends dropped by smokers: Bradford City Football fire in which 40 people died in 1985 King’s Cross Underground station fire in 1987 when 31 people died
- 4-17-09 Careless use of smoking material has been cited as the cause of a fire last month that did an estimated $20,000 damage to a residence affiliated with Little Friends Inc. of Naperville.
- March 2004, Richmond, Virginia: Cigarette butts tossed in a jammed trash chute likely sparked a March 26 fire that destroyed 26 buildings and caused $20 million in damage, fire officials said Thursday. Arson has been ruled out, a preliminary report released by the city said. The wind-whipped fire started about noon in a five-story apartment building under construction to house Virginia Commonwealth students. A chute used by workers to toss debris and sawdust was likely the source of the fire when still-smoldering cigarette butts were tossed into the chute with other trash. Wind gusts of 20 mph blew embers onto homes, some of them six blocks away. It took 200 firefighters about five hours to control the fire. One death was blamed on the fire when power to the area was shut off and a woman’s oxygen tank quit. (Source: CBS 6-TV, Richmond)
- January 2001, a motorist driving along Interstate 8 in San Diego County flicked a cigarette butt onto the center median, sparking a fire that eventually burned more than 10,000 acres, destroyed 16 homes and charred 64 vehicles.
- Thursday January 4, 2001 ALPINE, Calif. (Reuters) – A cigarette thrown from a car window by a careless smoker may have sparked a brush fire that forced hundreds of evacuations and hopscotched across 11,000 rural acres near San Diego this week, officials said on Thursday. “It was some kind of smoking material and we’re pretty sure it was a cigarette,” said Laura Lowes, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry. The incident is still under investigation, a San Diego Sheriff’s spokeswoman said.
- September 18, 2002: CAMP PENDLETON (CA)– A wildfire that scorched 247 acres on the base Monday afternoon was started by a cigarette butt tossed by a passing motorist, fire investigators said. The fire burned for about four hours along Vandegrift Boulevard, near the airfield, before firefighters got it under control. Scott Simpson, an investigator with the Camp Pendleton Fire Department, said there are thousands of cigarette butts on the ground in that area, but he was able to find the specific one that ignited Monday’s fire. “