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Smoking accidents

   Smoking accidents

Great strides have been made to reduce the number of smokers in the UK.

It would appear that legislation and public health campaigns to educate the public about the risks of smoking have been effective: in the year 2000, 27 per cent of the adult population were regular smokers. By 2018, data from the Office for National Statistics showed that this number had fallen to 14.7 per cent.

From an early age children are warned about the dangers of smoking. Rightly, the focus of PHSE lessons in schools is on the carcinogenic qualities of tobacco products as well as their expense. Much less has been said about accidents caused by smoking. Here is a guide to some of the hazards associated with smoking and how they might be avoided.

Smoking while driving
It is not against the law to smoke and drive in a private vehicle. However, if it causes distraction behind the wheel you could face a charge of careless driving. Rule 148 of the Highway Code includes smoking as one of a number of distractions to be avoided when driving or riding.

There have been a range of estimations about the number of incidents that are caused or contributed to by driver distraction. Road accident data suggests that in 2018, “distraction in vehicle” contributed to 2,647 incidents – three per cent of all of those reported on the road.

The Children and Families Act 2015 made smoking in cars with children an offence. In England, company vehicles are required to be smoke free at all times if they’re:
  • Used to transport members of the public, or 
  • Used in the course of paid or voluntary work by more than one person – regardless of whether they are in the vehicle at the same time. 
Smoking at work
Thankfully the cliché of a smoke-filled office from 1970s TV and films has been confined to history. Smoke-free legislation was introduced in England in 2007, banning smoking in nearly all enclosed workplaces and public spaces, following similar bans in Scotland and Wales.

The best practice for employers to avoid fires and the health impact of breathing in second-hand smoke is to have a designated place for smoking away from the building. The Health and Safety Executive also recommends that employers develop a smoking policy that gives priority to the rights of non-smokers.
Smoking in the home
In addition to the health problems associated with breathing in smoke in a confined space, smoking is one of the most the common cause of fires in the home. Staggeringly, 26 per cent of all fire deaths are caused smoking related.

Thirty-six per cent of fires reported between 2014 and 2015 were caused by smokers’ materials (i.e. cigarettes, cigars or pipe tobacco).

The advice from the fire service for avoiding a smoking-related fire is:
  • It's safer to smoke outside, but make sure cigarettes are put right out and disposed of properly
  • Never smoke in bed, and avoid smoking on arm chairs and sofas – especially if you think you might fall asleep
  • Take extra care when you’re tired, taking prescription drugs or if you’ve been drinking alcohol
  • Use proper ashtrays, which can’t tip over and stub cigarettes out properly
  • Don't balance cigars or cigarettes on the edge of an ashtray, or anything else – they can tip and fall as they burn away and cause a fire
  • Don’t leave lit pipes or cigarettes unattended
  • Always empty ashtrays carefully. Make sure smoking materials are out, cold and preferably wet them before throwing into a bin – never use a wastepaper basket
  • Keep matches and lighters out of children’s reach, and buy a child-resistant lighter.
Time to quit?
Smoking can cause cancer, accidents and can cost a moderate smoker more than £2,000 per year.
With this in mind, if you think it is time to quit then there are plenty of free resources to help you, available through the NHS.
Posted: 3/11/2020 11:51:52 AM 5 comments


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