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  1. Ivan Barry Pless
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ivan Barry Pless, 434 Lansdowne, Westmount, Quebec H3Y2V2, Canada; barry.pless{at}mcgill.ca

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Shriners' annual burn prevention campaign misses the boat

Burn Prevention Week in the USA was held last February and as they have done for many years, the Shriners lent their support. This is welcome but I was disappointed that the campaign is essentially educational. Two new characters, Boots and Brewster—a caped, cuddly bear and a googly-eyed teapot—teach children to be ‘burn aware’ by taking them through a house, room by room, pointing out dangers, and how to avoid them. Entertaining no doubt, but effective? Based on the evidence, unlikely.

Instead, I had hoped Shriners would use their great influence to combat efforts to have the fire-safe cigarette law repealed. Long ago, paediatrician Jack Crawford, recruited Liz McLoughlin to be part of his Shriners Burn Prevention Center in Boston. In 1978, McLoughlin joined Andrew McGuire's Trauma Foundation in San Francisco and after working to decrease sleepwear flammability they targeted preventing house-fire deaths by requiring that cigarettes be self-extinguishing. When the law was passed in the USA, I wrote an editorial celebrating this victory but have since learnt that there are efforts underway to have the law repealed. According to Wikipedia, Citizens Against Fire-Safe Cigarettes started an online petition advocating individual responsibility in preference to federal regulation. I think Shriners missed the boat this time around.

Canada passed Cigarette Ignition Propensity Regulations in 2005 and I wondered whether they were too being threatened. A Health Canada website reveals that most of the hundreds (yes, hundreds) of cigarettes tested are in compliance but according to the data it seems that at least …

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