Smoking warning after rise in house fires linked to the habit
- Credit: PA
Smokers are being warned to take extra care putting out cigarettes and not to buy fake ones, after tests showed counterfeits are more likely to cause fires.
Smoking is third biggest cause of house fires in Norfolk.
A smouldering cigarette can lay dormant for as long as six hours before sparking a flame, meaning fires can start in the middle of the night when people are asleep in bed.
Over the past year, four people have died in house fires in Norfolk compared to two in 2017 and there been 464 building fires across the county up from 433 in 2017.
Norfolk County Council's Trading Standards team is also warning people not to purchase cheap cigarettes after several raids uncovered fakes which can increase the risk of fires.
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Margaret Dewsbury, chairman of Norfolk County Council's Communities Committee said: 'Fake cigarettes do not self-extinguish and so elevate the risk of fire.
'Legislation around cigarettes ensures safety standards are maintained and people buying cheap cigarettes from illegal sellers cannot be sure of what they are buying.
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'Counterfeit and smuggled cigarettes tested on behalf of our Trading Standards team failed fire safety testing, with counterfeit cigarettes in particular burning all the way down to the filter,' she said.
Over the last two years Norfolk Trading Standards Service has seized more than 1.4m illegal cigarettes and 170kg of illegal hand rolling tobacco.
Ms Dewsbury said Trading Standards would continue to make sure those caught selling counterfeits face the consequences in court: 'We will continue to bring, offending traders before the courts. Convictions have resulted in prison sentences, fines and forfeiture of stock and have also led to unscrupulous traders having their alcohol licences revoked,' she said.
Anyone with information about illegal cigarettes should call the Citizens Advice Consumer helpline -anonymously if preferred on 03454 04 05 06 or visit: www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer
The police can be contacted via 101 or in the event of an emergency 999.
Advice on how to reduce the risk of a fire in the home:
•Install smoke alarms and test regularly.
•Ensure clutter is cleared and don't hoard belongings.
•Register warranties on household appliances.
•Don't leaving candles unattended.
•Don't overload plug sockets.
•Don't leave mobile phones and tablets charging overnight.
•Don't smoke in bed, always use proper ashtrays and ensure cigarettes are extinguished.
•Don't leave stoves unattended.
•Keep matches and lighters out of children's reach.
•Close internal doors at night to slow fire spread.
People are also advised to plan escape routes from their homes, so in the event of a fire they know how to get out quickly.
Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service carry out free home fire risk checks. To arrange one call: 0800 917 8137.
In the event of a fire, get out, stay out and call 999.