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Keywords:

  • cigarettes;
  • structural fires;
  • cigarette taxes;
  • smoking bans

ABSTRACT

Fires and burns are among the leading causes of unintentional death in the USA. Most of these deaths occur in residences, and cigarettes are a primary cause. In this paper, I explore the relationship between smoking, cigarette policies, and fires. As smoking rates decline, there are fewer opportunities for fires; however, the magnitude of any reduction is in question. Using a state-level panel, I find that increases in cigarette prices are associated with fewer residential fires and deaths. However, laws regulating indoor smoking are associated with more fires; in particular, restaurant and bar smoking bans are associated with an increase in fires at eating and drinking establishments. This increase is important given the growing popularity of smoking bans in the USA and around the world. As workplaces, schools, and businesses ban smoking and remove ashtrays, smokers who continue to smoke are left without safe options for disposal of cigarettes, leading to more opportunities for fires to start. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.