Legislation - children, smoking and the law
The Children and Young Persons (Protection from Tobacco) Act
1991 makes it illegal to sell any tobacco product to anyone below
the age of 16. The Act increased the maximum fines to £2,500
for retailers found guilty of selling cigarettes to children
and tightened up the previous legislation in a number of other
ways. However, in 1994 children aged 11-16 spent approximately £135
million on cigarettes. In 1995-97 there was an average of 140
prosecutions a year for under-age sales with average fines of £200
Children and matches
Research has shown that, in Europe, pre-school children playing
with matches and cigarette lighters cause 2,700 fires, 500 serious
injuries and 50 deaths every year.
In the UK, four research organisations under the direction of
the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) have teamed up to
look at what can be done.
Guided by a steering group of safety professionals and industry
representatives, the first focus of the work was to see whether
it was possible to follow the way forward on cigarette lighters,
where work is already under way to develop a new safety standard
to make lighters child resistant. The simple conclusion was that
the cost of production, the ingenuity of children and environmental
concerns combine to create impossible barriers to the development
of a childproof matchbox.
This led to a second phase of work: what could be done to improve
the effectiveness of the fire safety warning on matchboxes? Both
quantitative and qualitative research led to the conclusion that
a new warning and pictogram were the most popular response, particularly
among lower socio-economic groups where smoking and the incidence
of fires are significantly higher.
The final phase was to turn the research into a practical solution.
Launched during Child Safety Week 2000, the new logo has the
full support of match manufacturers.
The aim is to put an end to fires started by pre-school children
playing with matches - for good.
Advice to the Community
Fires started by smoking materials account for more than one-third
of all fire deaths and injure more than 500 children under 16
Never leave a lit cigarette or pipe unattended while you answer
the door or telephone.
Never smoke in bed.
Keep your matches and lighters in a safe place, well out of
reach of children.
Get a smoke alarm. In the event of a fire, it will give you
and your family some precious time to escape safely.
Smoking in the workplace
Most places of work now have, or are creating, a no-smoking
policy. When a large company or factory introduces a
no-smoking policy, this offers fire brigades an ideal
opportunity to give fire safety education to the whole
Carers in the community
People who are disabled, ill or elderly are at risk in terms
of their ability to escape from fire in the home.
Their carers are often their only link with the outside world.
Thus carers are a vital, direct link with these 'at risk' people.
They are concerned with the welfare of those in their care and
are usually happy to help in safety initiatives. Many carers
lack a sound knowledge of fire safety issues. Fire brigades can
have a direct influence on people's homes by providing carers
with fire safety literature, checklists and training courses.
For a checklist of the fire safety risks that carers should
look out for in people's homes, see the Toolbox module on Older