A daughter, whose 71-year-old mother lost her life in a house fire linked to illegal cigarettes, is backing a new fire safety campaign.
Julie Grant from Swineshead is joining forces with Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue, Lincolnshire Trading Standards and Crimestoppers, to highlight issues with Jin Ling illegal cigarettes and the dangers of not putting cigarettes out properly.
To coincide with the launch of a Smokefree Lincolnshire funded video, which graphically shows how quickly this sort of fire can destroy a home and claim a life, Julie is, for the first time, telling the tragic story about how her mum, June Buffham, died.
How quickly a fire can start
Although any cigarette can cause a house fire, this video highlights how quickly an illegal Jin Ling cigarette, with no safety mechanism can cause a devastating fire in your home.
"I wanted to know why did the fire start? I wanted to hear that mum had had a stroke or heart attack and had died before the fire. But because of the lack of remains, the cause was put down as accidental death caused by a cigarette being dropped in her chair. Mum had not stood a chance. They assured me that within seconds Mum would have been overcome by the toxic fumes before the fire engulfed her – this doesn’t help the image I have in my mind."
Dave Ramscar, Chief Fire Officer at Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue and Chair of Smokefree Lincolnshire, commented:
"This is such a sad case, and one which we unfortunately see time and time again – some where people have sadly died, like in June's case.
"In the past two years, all domestic fire fatalities in Lincolnshire were caused, in some way, by smoking materials, and, so far, this year, we have seen another two smoking related fire deaths. With this in mind, it is so important that we continue to educate and remind people – that if they choose to smoke – to make sure they put their cigarettes out, right out, when they have finished.
"We would ask that if you have elderly parents or grandparents, try to understand their smoking habits, and, if necessary, encourage change, i.e. not smoking in bed or when tired and, if you are concerned or need some advice, call us on 01522 580397. We can offer free home fire safety checks, where we will come give advice and, if necessary, provide specialist equipment, to reduce the risk of cigarette related fires."
Emma Milligan, principal trading standards officer at Lincolnshire County Council, continues to work with Crimestoppers, HMRC and Lincolnshire Police to crack down on the sale of Jin Ling illegal cigarettes in Lincolnshire.
"This is a real priority for us. Jin Ling cigarettes are so dangerous because they don’t go out when not actively being smoked, potentially causing a horrendous house fire, like the case here. Since 2013, we've seized over 138,000 illegal and counterfeit cigarettes in the county, but we recognise that we need to do more.
"We hope that Julie's story and the video can raise awareness of the dangers of this brand. Although they are cheaper than legal cigarettes– you can't put a price on life, so please don’t buy them. If you suspect anyone of selling cheap, illegal cigarettes, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or contact them using the Anonymous Online Form."