Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

The Decline in Reported Smoking-Caused Wildfires

Published

Author(s)

David T. Butry, Jeffrey P. Prestemon, Douglas S. Thomas

Abstract

The number of smoking-caused wildfires has been falling nationwide. On national forests in 2011, smoking-caused wildfires represented only 10 % of their 1980 level. No other cause of wildfire has experienced this level of decline. Using U.S. Forest Service data for 12 states, we evaluate the rate of smoking-caused wildfires as a function of weather, other human-caused ignitions, the number of adult smokers, the presence of improved detection methods, and whether a state required the sale of fire-safe cigarettes. We find the decline is partly explained by the reduction of adult smokers, improved wildfire cause detection training, and the use of ‘fire-safe’ cigarettes. While improved detection methods do not reduce the number of wildfires, they ensure that the causes of wildfire are accurately tracked. The finding that fire-safe cigarettes appear successful at limiting wildfire starts—by 20 %—is a likely unintended consequence of a technology aimed at reducing fire fatalities in residences. We also find that the improvements in wildfire cause detection has resulted in a reduction in smoking classified fires by 44 %. The decline in adult smoking rates has led to an overall reduction in the numbers of smoking-caused fires by 9 %.
Citation
International Journal of Wildland Fire

Keywords

wildland-urban interface, economics, prevention

Citation

Butry, D. , Prestemon, J. and Thomas, D. (2014), The Decline in Reported Smoking-Caused Wildfires, International Journal of Wildland Fire (Accessed June 24, 2024)

Issues

If you have any questions about this publication or are having problems accessing it, please contact reflib@nist.gov.

Created June 21, 2014, Updated April 18, 2017