Smoking safety

Smoking is a major cause of accidental fires in the home. We all know it’s healthier to quit but if you want to smoke, it’s important you do so safely. Taking a few steps can improve your fire safety and make it less likely you’ll get hurt.

This page features lots of advice to help you stay safer around cigarettes and other smoking products.

Stop smoking

It’s not easy to quit smoking but there is lots of help available. Reducing or preferably stopping your smoking is the best way to reduce fire risk due to cigarettes or other products. If you are struggling to quit, don’t worry. We have lots of tips to help you reduce your fire risk.

Find information and help to quit through the NHS Smoke Free service (link opens in a new tab).

Here are just a few benefits you’ll enjoy when you stop smoking:

  • Reducing fire risks in your home.

  • Boosting your physical and mental wellbeing.

  • Saving money every day.

The dangers

Smoking is among the highest causes of fire fatalities in the UK. This is because many people who smoke inside do so because they have reduced mobility; if you can’t get outside to smoke, you might not escape from a fire.

Naked flames of any kind can quickly start a fire if they touch fabrics like clothing or soft furnishings. Lighters, lit cigarettes, and hot ashes can all set flammable materials alight. If you smoke inside, you are placing sources of ignition right next to potential fuel.

These risks are much higher if you smoke in bed because you might fall asleep with a lit cigarette in your hand. People lying in bed are also unable to escape a fire as quickly.

Smoking safety

Whether you smoke cigarettes, cigars, pipes, or anything else, it is safer and healthier to quit.

If you must smoke, we recommend you follow this advice:

  • Use an ashtray for your hot ashes and cigarette butts.

  • Take care when emptying your ashtray. Preferably, submerge all ashes so they’re damp before binning them.

  • Never throw butts off a balcony or out of a moving vehicle.

  • Never smoke in bed or in an armchair in case you fall asleep.

  • Consider only smoking outside to reduce your risk of a fire.

  • Never smoke near oxygen tanks, fuel, or flammable materials.

E-cigarette safety

Many people switch to using e-cigarettes (or vapes) to help them stop smoking. Vapes are usually cheaper than cigarettes, so others choose to switch and save money. But these products can also represent a fire risk.

This is especially true if they’re not used properly, or if they’re charged or disposed of in an incorrect way.

Here are our top safety tips for using e-cigarettes:

  • Buy them only from reputable retailers.

  • Take care that you do not purchase counterfeit goods.

  • Read all the instructions before you use the e-cig.

  • Keep all vaping paraphernalia out of reach of children and pets.

  • Do not vape near oxygen or fuel tanks.

  • Never throw spent e-cigs in the bin. Take them to a recycling point.

Charging your e-cig

Most rechargeable e-cigs use lithium-ion batteries. This means there are some key safety points to remember whenever you’re using them.

Use only the charger provided with the product. Don’t use a different one even if its adapter fits into the device port. Do not overcharge your e-cig. Leaving it charging continuously can increase the risk of a fire.

Never charge them overnight or while you are sleeping. This is when many fires occur.

Protect your e-cig from being pierced, crushed, dropped, or otherwise damaged. Lithium-ion batteries can go into what’s called thermal runaway when compromised. This means they can explode and cause a very serious fire.

Keep your e-cig away from other metal objects like coins and keys. These items can cause it to short-circuit and start a fire.