Lit cigarettes are literally the most dangerous thing in the world

Another quirk of nested containers. If you happen to be smoking and you drop the pack or whatever that your lit cigarette is contained in, prepare to lose everything you dropped in a fiery conflagration, assuming that it simply doesn’t just catch you ablaze as well. When people smoke, they obviously keep the thing they’re smoking in their pocket or their backpack, rather than between their fingers or lips. That just makes sense, right?

I’ve brought this up before. It’s nonsensical for dropped cigarettes to be such a fire hazard. They simply do not burn hot enough to catch fabric ablaze, most of the time. The old quadriplegic I used to work for has the burn scars on his chest to attest to that, from when he fell asleep with a lit cigarette or dropped a cherry on himself. They’ll singe a hole in something they’re dropped on, sure enough, but you aren’t generally going to see a cigarette cherry cause something else to burst into open flame.

I’m aware of the isolated reports of people dying in their beds from reportedly falling asleep smoking, but that’s hardly the case most of the time. Those events are tragedies that have been blown heavily out-of-proportion by people who wanted to use them as anti-smoking propaganda.

Drop a lit cigarette into a pile of shredded paper in a contained space, yeah, I can see how that might catch fire. The conditions for catching fire in that situation are extremely favorable. Onto a standard blanket or bed, or a backpack, not so much.


As a former fire fighter, even though that was short-lived, I can confirm and object this at the same time.
Yes, depending on the fabric and its treatments, they usually don’t catch fire that quickly (as in, the cigarette extinguishes itself before it sets the fabric ablaze). On the other hand, it’s more common than reading “blown heavily out-of-proportion” might lead to believe.

From the top of my head I know of a case in a home for the blind where a resident dropped his cigarette onto his bed and was unable to locate it in time. His bed and part of the room were damaged/destroyed, but he escaped unscathed.
That fire fighting operation was recored and documented, it might even be on Youtube (but, as this happened in Germany, the documentation is in German).
I could search for it, if necessary.

Yeah, at least that should not happen.

Fair enough. I tend to get hyperbolic when irritated. I was looking into it further to find data to support (or attack) my position and came across this.
Home Fires Started by Smoking - 2019
Supporting Tables

As expected, the highest risk calculated by the gathered data lies in trash in confined areas, however, that ratio could likely be skewed by the fact that a garbage can is the most likely place for the unwary smoker to dump hot ash or embers. Bedding comes second, but the data does not tell us what kind of bedding is catching fire. A down comforter or anything made of wool would be much more likely to catch fire than the average cotton sheet. Firefighters recommend cotton underclothing for a reason. The data also has no control, making objective evaluation impossible.

My issue isn’t so much that it happens at all, just that it happens EVERY TIME. A lit cigarette shouldn’t catch your backpack on fire in a matter of seconds and, realistically, falling asleep with a cigarette in your mouth is not a guaranteed death sentence. Risky behavior, sure. Highly increased chance of meeting a fiery end, I’ll buy that. A 5% chance of something happening is a hundred times increased from a .05% chance, after all.

A way to fix this that I’ve pondered, concerning the dropped gear issue at least, would be to make lit smokes auto-equip to the hand or mouth apparel slots. I freely admit that I have absolutely no idea how one would implement that.

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Those are interesting and solid looking sources, thank you for posting these.

(Sheep) Wool is actually not likely to catch fire - it weirdly has some natural fire resistance.
Usually (untreated) polyester polyacrylic and cotton can be a large fire hazard, but it always depends on the way it’s processed. Compact clothing is less likely to catch fire and burn than fluffy one, for sure.

A quick search brought up this (dated) document which states:

I also found a (German) document from a renowned testing magazine that tested of flammability of (kids) clothing. At some point it states that it didn’t even take 12 seconds to burn up to a height of 22 cm of different tested cotton clothing (also available as a PDF). So a backpack could go up in flames in seconds… but if that should be displayed in the game like that is indeed doubtful.

True. It should only be a chance… I actually had a character fall asleep with a lit cigarette once and nothing happened, but that was quite some versions ago, maybe it has changed… I haven’t checked the source code…

Huh. I wonder what I was thinking of, then. I remember learning that wool was very flammable due to the lanolin. Guess my memory has failed me again.