Investigation of the decline in reported smoking-caused wildfires in the USA from 2000 to 2011
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.
Requesting Print Publications
Publication requests are subject to availability. Fiscal responsibility limits the hardcopies of publications we produce and distribute. Electronic versions of publications may be downloaded, distributed and printed.
Please make any requests at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
- Our online publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat. During the capture process some typographical errors may occur. Please contact the SRS webmaster if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
- To view this article, download the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader.