Most everyone these days knows of the range of health risks associated with smoking cigarettes. From such common substances as tar to a list of unpronounceable synthetic compounds, many of the chemicals found in addictive tobacco products are proven carcinogens. Moreover, nicotine addiction has been shown to affect developing infants in the womb, dramatically raising the stakes of an already risky habit.
Lawmakers and business around the world have taken steps to reduce the public impact of smoking through bans, taxes, and other socially-conscious efforts. However, the dangers of cigarettes do not end at personal health. Every year, almost 1,000 people in the U.S. alone are killed by fires started when a still-smoldering cigarette ignites, and another 2,500 are injured.
One of the greatest explanations of this danger is the fact that a cigarette dropped between a couch cushion in between bed sheets, for example, may smolder for as long as half an hour before erupting into a blaze. A cigarette discarded in a trashcan is another source of potentially devastating flames.
With an eye to this possibility, many companies have begun to develop and market self-extinguishing cigarettes, which go out when not constantly puffed on. Although they are probably safer in most cases, the tobacco industry giant Philip Morris recently claimed that self-extinguishing cigarettes pose a greater threat, as their ends can fall out and still cause fires without any warning to consumers.