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Tobacco Prevention Supports Fire Prevention Week!

October 7th marks the beginning of National Fire Prevention Week, and this
is an appropriate time to remind everyone about the dangers of smoking
cigarettes.  According to the National
Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), in 2010, one home structure fire was
reported every 85 seconds.  And, while this statistic is startling, my
first hand experience of being jolted from sleep at 3 a.m., literally hit home,
when someone banged on my apartment door shouting "fire!"

A resident who was smoking a cigarette on the couch and fell asleep started the
fire in my apartment building.  As a
survivor of that fire, I know about the lingering and devastating affect fires
can have.  Moreover, it was a wakeup call
for me (no pun intended).  After
surviving that fire-where I lost most of my personal property, but thankfully sustained
no physical injuries, I became actively involved with the Wisconsin African
American Tobacco Prevention Network (WAATPN). 
I shouted for joy when Wisconsin passed the smoke-free law in 2010. This
was not just a great piece of legislation because of the devastating effects
smoking cigarettes and second hand smoke have on one's health, but I understand
the emotional toll survivors of fires must overcome when the one space you are
supposed to feel safe and secure-home-is compromised because of the carelessness
of cigarette smokers!

Fires caused by smoking materials are the leading cause of home fires. The NFPA
reports that smoking materials started an estimated 7,500 home structure fire,
resulting in 540 deaths, 1,320 injuries and $535 million in direct property
damage (,
2010 statistics). 

National Fire Prevention Week is a great opportunity for us to proactively address the
issue of smoking cigarettes with our family, friends, co-workers and relatives.
This week of fire prevention awareness is not just about a cute slogan; it is a
reality that too many people live.   It is also a good opportunity for us to talk
to our young people about the dangers of smoking cigarettes, as we encourage
those who smoke to quit!



of Milwaukee Health Department

Room 501, Zeidler Municipal Building 841 N.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53202

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