Fire Prevention Week is an excellent time to discuss issues of safety with individuals, families, and the business community. It is also a time to for community members to raise awareness about the relationship between smoking and residential fires. A 2011 U.S. Fire Administration data report identifies 305 deaths and more than $280 million in property damage from smoking related fires, nationally.
As a survivor of a residential fire caused by smoking, I acknowledge that the event’s impact can remain with a person for years even if a death or personal injury did not occur. Nearly 7,000 people die annually from illnesses directly related to smoking and approximately 751 die from illnesses and fires indirectly related to smoking, for a total of 7,717 annual deaths in Wisconsin. Tobacco use also costs Wisconsin approximately $4.5 billion annually in health care expenses and lost productivity.
The Wisconsin Tobacco Prevention Poverty Network promotes community activities this week that include making healthy decisions about tobacco use, maintaining a working smoke alarm, and discussing safety with family members.