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Type: Journal Article
Author(s): David T. Butry; Jeffrey P. Prestemon; Douglas S. Thomas
Publication Date: 2014

The number of smoking-caused wildfires has been falling nationwide. In 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. For 12 states, we evaluate the rate of smoking-caused wildfires and find it is a function of weather, other ignitions, the number of adult smokers, the presence of improved wildfire cause-determination methods, and whether a state required the sale of less fire-prone cigarettes. We find the decline in adult smoking rates has led to a reduction of smoking-caused fires by 9%. The finding that less fire-prone cigarettes appear successful at limiting wildfire starts - by 23% - is a likely unintended benefit of a technology aimed at reducing fire fatalities in residences. We also find that the improvements in wildfire cause determination have resulted in a reduction in smoking-classified fires by 48%. Although improved wildfire cause-determination methods do not necessarily reduce the number of wildfires, they ensure that the causes of wildfire are accurately tracked. Accurate wildfire cause determination can, however, result in targeting wildfire-prevention programs to specific fire-cause categories, which can lead to a reduction in the overall number of wildfires.

Online Links
Citation: Butry, David T.; Prestemon, Jeffrey P.; Thomas, Douglas S. 2014. Investigation of the decline in reported smoking-caused wildfires in the USA from 2000 to 2011. International Journal of Wildland Fire 23(6):790-798.

Cataloging Information

Alaska    California    Eastern    Great Basin    Hawaii    Northern Rockies    Northwest    Rocky Mountain    Southern    Southwest    National
  • cigarettes
  • fire frequency
  • fire investigation
  • fire management
  • fire size
  • fire standard compliant
  • fire-safe cigarettes
  • health factors
  • human caused fires
  • Illinois
  • incendiary fires
  • Kentucky
  • lightning caused fires
  • litter
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • recreation related fires
  • statistical analysis
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • wildfire investigation
Tall Timbers Record Number: 29997Location Status: In-fileCall Number: Journals - IAbstract Status: Fair use, Okay, Reproduced by permission
Record Last Modified:
Record Maintained By: FRAMES Staff (
FRAMES Record Number: 52801

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by Tall Timbers and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of Tall Timbers.