There has been a lot of press recently about the dangers of E-cigarettes and their devices as a cause of house fires. However, if you look a little closer at the facts you might begin to question some of the recent ‘news’ stories that have been appearing.
So, what’s been written in the media?
According to the ever-unreliable and often alarmist Daily Mail, ‘Electronic cigarettes have been linked to more than 100 fires, new figures reveal’. It’s not just the Daily Mail that is printing this stuff, The Independent, The Telegraph and The Guardian ran with the same story. The Mirror even claims that E-cig charging devices are responsible for at least 1 fire a week. In response to all this panic inducing reporting, Fire Officers have now even released a document to combat the dangers of E-cigarettes as a cause of fires.
So, if you believed all the hype you’d have to be a self-loathing lunatic to continue vaping in the face of such danger…or would you?
What about the dangers of cigarettes?
All of these headlines that condemn E-Cigarettes as home-wrecking explosives, neglect to mention some key statistics that will offer the reader a sense of perspective and context. As is the case with many anti E-Cigarette articles that you read, there is no mention of the comparative dangers of traditional cigarettes. So let’s have a look at some of the house fire statistics for cigarettes, so we can have a balanced view of the situation.
According to the latest government report on Fire Statistics:
- ‘Smokers’ materials (i.e. cigarettes, cigars or pipe tobacco) were the most frequent source of ignition causing accidental dwelling fire deaths, accounting for over a third of all accidental dwelling fire deaths in 2012-13. For every 1000 fires caused by smoking materials 35 people were killed.
- The injury rate was highest for fires started by cigarette lighters (459 per 1000 fires).
- Half of fire deaths in buildings that were not dwellings resulted from smoker’s material or cigarette lighters.
OK, so how do E-Cigarettes actually compare to tobacco cigarettes?
Let’s first go back to that headline from the various papers regarding E-Cigarettes and their links with over 100 house fires. This statistic was taken over 2 years from 43 separate fire services, where 113 calls were made due to E-Cigarettes. When you consider this in context with the above statistics for traditional cigarettes the numbers do not seem as terrifying as our friends in the media want you to believe. A simple comparison of the two emphasises the gulf in safety between E-cigs and cigarettes.
According to the government statistics highlighted above, cigarettes have been the cause of 2,797 fires in the home, causing 85 deaths between 2012-2013 (1 year). If you consider that there is now reported to be 10million smokers in the UK, according to ASH, the statistics for cigarettes and house fires look like this:
In one year smoking accounted for:
- 8.5 house fire fatalities per million smokers
- 279 accidental house fires per million smokers
The figure of 113 seems to be the reported figure when it comes to fires caused by E-Cigarettes and their related devices. Although there is no official report, this is the figure that the BBC, Daily Mail, Mirror, Independent and Gaurdian seem to have agreed on. So we will assume its validity and consider this a reliable figure for the number of fires caused. So, let’s say that’s 57 call outs over a 1 year period.
The number of deaths caused by E-Cigarette house fires has also not been officially recorded, but having trawled tirelessly through the internet I can find only two reported fatalities, one man in Merseyside and very recently, an unfortunate woman in Chesterfield.
The latest YouGov survey states that there are currently 2.1 million vapers in the UK so the stats for E-Cigarettes look like this:
In one year E-Cigarettes accounted for:
- 0.96 house fire fatalities per one million vapers
- 27 accidental house fires per one million vapers
So, E-Cigarettes can actually reduce the risk of house fires and preventable deaths…right?
Yes, the more people give up smoking, or chose vaping in favour of tobacco smoking the better. In terms of house fires and preventable deaths, the safety of E-Cigarette products when compared to tobacco cigarettes and lighters is clear to see. Now, I don’t want you to think that we are in anyway dismissing the dangers of battery fires. Nor, are we downplaying the tragic fatalities that have occurred. This article is merely here to provide context to the alarmist media reports that are portraying E-Cigarette products as death traps. If stories of unsafe E-Cig devices continue to gather momentum then the government may be prompted to introduce strict regulation of products. Over regulating these products on the basis of unbalanced reporting could seriously damage the E-Cigarette industry and its potential to save many lives. Suppliers have a responsibility to ensure that all products they sell are safe, but you the vaper can also help to improve the image of E-Cigarettes by being responsible with the products you buy and use at home.
What Can I do?
ALWAYS use the correct e-cig charger for your battery. This is the number one cause of battery problems.
DON’T leave chargers on whilst you sleep or for long periods of time.
DO monitor the charger if you are charging for a long period of time – if they get hot unplug them.
ALWAYS make sure that the product you are buying is from a reputable supplier. Read reviews, shop around and ensure your supplier can be trusted.