Do self-extinguishing cigarettes help prevent residential fires?

Boston – A 2008 law requiring all cigarettes sold in Massachusetts to be “fire-safe” appears to have resulted in fewer residential fires, according to a new study from Harvard University.

Fire-safe cigarettes are designed to quickly extinguish when left unattended. The study covered the period of 2004 to 2010, during which 1,629 unintentional residential fires occurred in the state. Researchers found that the number of fires dropped 28 percent after the cigarette law went into effect.

The biggest decreases occurred in fires in which furniture or bedding was ignited (such as a person falling asleep while smoking), fires in living areas, and fires in the summer and winter, the study abstract states.

The study was published online Feb. 13 in the American Journal of Public Health.