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Cigarette fires and burns in a population of New Zealand smokers

Abstract

Objectives: To identify the proportion of adult cigarette smokers who have experienced cigarette-caused fires and burns and to describe smoker characteristics associated with increased risk of cigarette-caused fires and burns.

Methods: Data on cigarette-caused fires and burns were collected in the baseline questionnaire of a randomised trial of a smoking cessation intervention conducted in New Zealand between March 2006 and May 2007. Participants were adult callers to a national smoking cessation counselling service. Lifetime prevalence estimates of cigarette-caused fires and burns were obtained and associations between smoker characteristics and risk of fires and burns examined using logistic regression.

Results: Of 1097 participants in the trial at baseline, 75 (6.8%) reported past experience of ⩾1 fires caused by cigarettes (96 fires reported in total) and 658 (60.0%) described at least 1 cigarette-caused burn. In all, 57 participants (5.2%) reported burns that required medical attention. Male sex and Māori ethnicity (indigenous New Zealanders, who comprise 15% of the national population and among whom 42% of adults are smokers) were associated with increased risk of cigarette-caused fires. Male sex, younger age, younger age of smoking initiation, being unmarried, having a partner who smoked, having a higher education level and an annual income of $20 000 or more were associated with increased risk of cigarette burn injuries.

Conclusions: The results indicate that cigarette-caused fires and burns are common among New Zealand smokers, are a source of inequality and therefore deserve greater attention from health advocates and policymakers.

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