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Prevalence of behaviors related to cigarette-caused fires: a survey of Ontario smokers
  1. R J O’Connor1,
  2. J E Bauer1,*,
  3. G A Giovino1,,
  4. D Hammond2,
  5. A Hyland1,
  6. G T Fong3,
  7. K M Cummings1
  1. 1Department of Health Behavior, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, New York, USA
  2. 2Department of Health Studies & Gerontology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
  3. 3Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr R J O’Connor
 Department of Health Behavior, Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Elm and Carlton Streets, Buffalo, NY 14263, USA; richard.oconnor{at}


Objective: To identify the prevalence and correlates of behaviors related to the risk of cigarette-caused fires.

Design and setting: Random-digit-dialed telephone survey in Ontario, Canada, July–September, 2005.

Subjects: 596 current cigarette smokers.

Outcome measures: Prevalence of fire-risk events and behaviors such as burning clothing or objects in the home, leaving lit cigarettes unattended, dozing while smoking, and smoking in bed and correlates of these behaviors. Respondents were also asked if they ever worry about cigarette-caused fires.

Results: One in four smokers admitted to leaving lit cigarettes unattended in the last 30 days, while 15% admitted to smoking while in bed. Leaving lit cigarettes unattended was independent of demographic, socioeconomic or nicotine dependence indicators, but was related to worry about burning other persons with a cigarette (OR 1.72, 95% CI 1.04 to 2.85) and smoking inside the home (OR 2.98, 95% CI 1.66 to 5.35). Persons who were not white (OR 3.97, 95% CI 1.80 to 8.80), aged 18–24 years (OR 3.75, 95% CI 1.41 to 9.96), who had high nicotine dependence (OR 9.13, 95% CI 2.22 to 37.52) and worried about burning objects in their home (OR 2.43, 95% CI 1.31 to 4.52) were more likely to smoke in bed. 10 (1.7%) smokers reported having ever had a fire in their home started by a cigarette.

Conclusions: Smokers engage in behaviors such as smoking in bed and leaving lit cigarettes unattended that may place them at an increased risk of cigarette-caused fires. As governments move to regulate cigarette ignition propensity, it is important to establish surveillance for behaviors related to fire risk.

  • HSI, Heaviness of Smoking Index
  • RDD, random-digit-dialed
  • RIP, reduced ignition propensity

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  • * Now with Statistics & Evaluation Center, American Cancer Society, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

  • Now with Department of Health Behavior, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York, USA

  • Funding: This work was supported by grants from the US National Cancer Institute (Roswell Park Cancer Institute Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center 1 P50 CA111236 and 1 R01 CA117108), and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (# 045734).

  • Competing interests: None.