HC Deb 28 April 1980 vol 983 c376W
Mr. Haselhurst

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what evidence he has regarding the proportion of fires caused by ignition through smokers' materials being due to (a) cigarettes, (b) matches and (c) lighters.

Mrs. Sally Oppenheim

United Kingdom fire statistics do not differentiate between cigarettes, matches and lighters as individual sources of ignition under the general heading of " smokers materials ". As my hon. Friend will appreciate, it is extremely difficult to define precisely the source of ignition when all the evidence has been destroyed in the ensuing fire. In the absence of such firm evidence, I have taken the widely-held view that a far greater risk to upholstery is presented by a carelessly dropped cigarette, which can smoulder unnoticed for some time before ignition finally takes place, by which time a good many people may well have retired for the night, than by a carelessly handled match, as the latter can usually be expected to have been noticed in sufficient time to allow simple remedial action to be taken or to make escape possible. Most lighters in current use are designed to self-extinguish if dropped.

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