Archived Story

Dadeville firefighter warns against improperly discarded cigarettes

Published 10:37am Thursday, July 11, 2013

Cigarette smoking has been proven to be a health hazard, but there is another aspect of life where cigarettes can be a danger.

When not properly disposed of, they pose a threat to the environment.

“They’re a problem all over the place,” said Dadeville firefighter Jeanna Brewer. “When a person has a cigarette, it’s the most important thing in the world to them, but when they’re through, they couldn’t care less where it goes.”

Brewer said according to one of their fire publications, cigarettes cause numerous fire disasters. Smoking causes an estimated 30 percent of U.S. and 10 percent of global fire death burdens. Smokers account for most of the accidental fires in America and account for a majority of the accidental deaths caused by fire.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, every year almost 1,000 smokers and non-smokers are killed in home fires caused by cigarettes and other smoking materials.

And Brewer said with the propensity for wildfires caused by discarded cigarette butts, people should be more cautious.

“It is a potential to become a wildfire,” Brewer said. “It can happen at any time. To me, I think it should be a crime to discard them on the street, much less in the woods.”

Brewer said people should especially be more aware of fire hazards after the recent wildfire in Arizona that resulted in the death of 19 firefighters.

“If it’s particularly dry, there’s the potential out there for a wildfire,” Brewer said. “Smith Mountain and the area around here certainly has that potential.”

Police Chief David Barbour also warned of the danger posed by discarded cigarettes and commented on the legal issues that would surround a fire started by a cigarette.

“If it was intentionally done to set a fire, it would be a criminal act,” Barbour said. “If it was an accidental situation, it would just be an incident.”

Brewer said she thinks smokers who don’t properly dispose of their cigarettes are ignorant of or oblivious to the dangers.

“They need to have a proper ashtray to put it out,” Brewer said. “Even a can with a little liquid in it (will work).”

“We only get one earth. The lands around us are very important,” Brewer said. “Be mindful so that we can take care of the earth.”