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Thanks for digging that up, I was wondering about that.

The article cites a retardant advocate as saying "Deaths caused by furniture fires dropped from 1,400 in 1980 to 600 in 2004; a 57 percent reduction."

We know that almost all of these couch fires are caused by people falling asleep while smoking cigarettes.

According to the CDC, in the same period, cigarette consumption in the US adult population has fallen from 33.2% in 1980 to 20.9% in 2004. (http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0762370.html)

So a certain portion of the decline is due to the reduction in cigarette use.

Also, 43 out of 50 states now mandate "fire safe" cigarettes which contain substances such as ethylene vinyl acetate which increase the chance an unsmoked but lit cigarette will stop burning. The presence of these cigarettes has also certainly led to fewer couch fires.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fire_safe_cigarette

It is unlikely that the entire 57 percent reduction in couch fires over 24 years is entirely due to the use of carcinogenic flame retardants.




"According to the CDC, in the same period, cigarette consumption in the US adult population has fallen from 33.2% in 1980 to 20.9% in 2004."

Those who smoke cigarettes also smoke a lot less than they used to, so total cigarette consumption is maybe only half as much or less compared to what it once was.

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Also, it seems that smokers (at least in the US) are much more likely to go outside to smoke now, even when at their own home. Sorry, no data just personal recollections from childhood in the '80s.

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This seems correct anecdotally. At some point they figured out that smoking is somewhat less bad for you if you smoke outside, so maybe this had some effect.

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  At some point they figured out that smoking is somewhat less bad for you if you smoke outside
Smoking is in no way less bad for you if done out of doors. It's because no one, not even a smoker, wants their domicile to smell like an ash tray...and when selling a house, you don't want to cut out that large swath of the population that doesn't smoke from your buyer pool.

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"Smoking is in no way less bad for you if done out of doors."

That's not true. If you live in the house of someone who was formerly a heavy smoker then you have a higher cancer risk yourself, because the radiation from the cigarrettes gets into the walls and carpet. Which means that smokers themselves also have a lower cancer risk if they smoke outside for the same reason. I'd imagine it also somewhat reduces their risk for heart attack, since second hand smoke increases your risk of heart attack, although I haven't seen any stats on that.

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It's certainly much less bad for the other people around you, like your children.

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Everyone commenting on this thread seems to make the assumption that all smokers in fact smoke cigarettes inside their residence. As a 26 year-old semi-heavy smoker, I've never once even considered smoking inside my apartment, nor do I know any smokers who do so. This may be dismissed as anecdotal by the type of vehement anti-smoking zealot you seem to be,But I believe it's an accurate depiction of smokers at large.

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> nor do I know any smokers who do so.

I've known several.

> This may be dismissed as anecdotal by the type of vehement anti-smoking zealot you seem to be

I guess your anecdotal evidence trumps my anecdotal evidence. Carry on.

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The decline in deaths could also have been caused by laws that require the installation of smoke detectors.

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Very good point. Given that the person who authored the most frequently cited study advocating retardants has gone on record saying his study has been mis-cited and they actually provide absolutely no benefit at all, it seems fairly likely that the entire 57% decrease is due to these other factors and not related at all to treating the foam with carcinogens.

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