Fire Safety with Cigarettes and Smoking Materials

Sadly, Fire Deaths Caused by Improperly Discarded Smoking Materials are Still Number One

National research shows that although kitchen fires account for a greater number of fires in homes, fires caused by smoking materials are still the number one cause of fire deaths.

Never leave burning smoking materials unattended. When you put them out, be sure they are completely out.

To Smoke Inside, or Outside, that is the Question


If you smoke, try to smoke outside. Use ashtrays that are specifically designed as “outdoor ashtrays”. Several inches of sand in a deep non-combustible container also does the job. When you stick the burning smoking material in the sand, the sand blocks the air from supplying the burning smoking material with oxygen thus causing it to go out. The sand also keeps the ashes and embers from being blown around. 

Think about the places in your yard where blowing leaves collect; these are the same nooks and crannies the wind will send the embers from smoking materials that have not been properly extinguished.

Close up picture of a clay pot filled with sand and several extinguished cigarette butts


If you do choose to smoke inside, try to choose a location in your home where it is not easy to fall asleep. Many people choose to only smoke in the kitchen for example; at a sturdy kitchen table whilst sitting in an un-upholstered kitchen chair, or even standing up.

Fire services have done a pretty good job spreading the “don’t smoke in bed” message; however, a big comfortable couch is also a risky location - it too can invite sleep.

Many smoking material related fires occur in the living room and the risk is even greater if you’re already tired, have taken medication that makes you drowsy or have consumed alcohol.

Watch Your Ashes and Your Ashtrays

When ashtrays need emptying, transfer the extinguished smoking materials to a non-combustible container with water in it. This ensures that all smoking materials are good and out before disposing of them.

Matches and Lighters are Tools for Adults, Not Toys for Children

Remember too that many children have a natural curiosity about fire. Keep matches and lighters on your person. Never leave them out for children to find.

Children as young as two have started fires with matches and lighters.

The Arson Prevention Program for Children (TAPP-C) was developed to address firesetting behaviours in children and youth aged 2 - 17. If you suspect your child is setting fires, get help immediately.

In HRM contact the Public Education section of the Fire Prevention Division by calling 311.

Photograph of a young boy sitting at a dining table and playing with a box of matches.  He is trying to light a wooden match against the side of the box of matches.

Other Risky Business

Never smoke in areas where medical oxygen is being used.

If using e-cigarettes or vaping, be sure to follow all manufacturers instructions for care and use.

Photgraph of a mature man with gray hair and black glasses wearing a blue blazer jacket and white shirt and smoking an e-cigerette.  Smoke is puffing from it.