Nearly two dozen people have died in building or house fires this year in Iowa. Jessica Lown, spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Public Safety, says many fatal fires could be prevented if smokers would completely extinguish their butts. "Over the last 30 years, with a few rare exceptions, the number one cause of fire fatalities in the state of Iowa has been the careless disgard of smoking materials," Lown said.
In a little less than six months, Iowa will enact a new law requiring cigarettes sold in the state to be "fire safe." That means if someone stops puffing on a cigarette, it will self extinguish. Lown says public safety officials are "cautiously hopeful" that the new law will lead to a drop in the number of house fires in the state. "But this new law and these new kinds of cigarettes is no substitution for personal responsibility for smokers," Lown said.
She’s encouraging smokers, even with the new self extinguishing cigarettes, to play it safe. Lown says smokers should place more ash trays around the home and possibly have their last cigarette of the day outside. "Have the last cigarette outside. Don’t have it upstairs in your bedroom where there’s the chance, even the slightest chance, that you might fall asleep while you’re still smoking," Lown suggested.
The new fire safe cigarette law goes into effect on January 1, 2009. Out of the 30 fire fatalities in Iowa in 2007, six were blamed on "improper disposal of smoking materials."