New cigarette safety standards are to be implemented which could have a major impact in reducing the number of people killed or significantly injured as a result of house fires.
The latest statistics published by the Department for Communities and Local Government showed that in 2008 there were 2,800 house fires caused by smoking related materials in which 101 people died and 932 were injured.
The new regulations will mean that every cigarette sold in the EU must meet a reduced ignition propensity requirement. This will require all cigarettes to have special bands placed at intervals along the length of the cigarette so that the cigarette will go out if it is not actively smoked.
It is estimated that the new cigarette design could prevent around 1,800 fires saving around 67 lives and preventing injuries to around 600 people a year in the UK alone.
The new regulations have been welcomed by safety campaigners, anti-smoking groups and the fire and rescue services. The London Fire Brigade has lobbied for the new safety standards to be adopted since 2005.
Councillor Susan Hall, chairperson of the London Fire and Emergency planning Authorities safety committee also welcomed the new regulations saying it was a “watershed moment” for fire safety.