Have you noticed the number of people bundled up outside having a smoke on the front steps or porch? A September 2014 article by King, Patel and Babb in MMWR, “Prevalence of Smokefree Home Rules — United States, 1992–1993 and 2010–2011,”confirms that this effort to limit second-hand smoke is part of a real shift. The authors noted that in 1992-1993, 43% of all households, and 10% of households with at least one smoker, said that no one was allowed to smoke inside the home. In 2010-2011, 83% of all households and almost half (46%) of all households with one or more smokers banned indoor smoking. NFPA also encourages people who smoke to smoke outside to reduce the risk of a deadly fire.
A new NFPA fact sheet shows how the leading areas of origin in home structure fires have changed over time. Only 1% of home smoking material fires started on the exterior balcony or open porch and less than 1% started in a courtyard, terrace or patio in 1980-1984, compared to 14% and 6% in these areas, respectively, in 2007-2011.
Careful disposal of smoking materials is as important outside as inside. We are seeing too many fires that began outdoors in mulch, potted plants, landscaping, or on an outside porch. Such a fire can easily spread into the home itself.