When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Cigarettes

Nope, this has nothing to with all the devastation that smoking visits on a body over 20, 30, or 40 years. This has to do with the devastation that smoking can bring in one big red FOOM if you’re a knucklehead about where you throw your butts.

Here in the ‘Shire, you’re about equally likely to burn to death as you are to be murdered, which is to say, not terribly likely. But just like your odds of murder go up with certain lifestyle choices, such as gang membership or dope dealing, your odds of dying screaming in fire or silently in fumes (before your already-dead body gets the luau treatment from the flames), go through the roof if you start throwing around things that are lit and burning. 

The article doesn’t say, but what are the odds Jungle Juice® is also present at the scenes of these crimes?

Eleven New Hampshire residents died in unintentional residential fires last year. And every one of those deaths was preventable, according to the state fire marshal.

Eight of the 11 deaths were related to smoking, including the deaths of four members of one family in Manchester last June. Six involved smoking materials; two victims died after smoking while using oxygen.

Fire Marshal J. William Degnan said the toughest thing for those who investigate fatal fires is “seeing the pain and anguish of the surviving family members.”

via Eight fire deaths in NH last year linked to smoking | New Hampshire.

In the case illustrated left, there probably weren’t any surviving family members to grieve because Mama Bear, Papa Bear and both Baby Bears crisp-fired to a crackly crunch in their own body fats. Cause? One of the adults (presumably) dropping their cigarette in the ratty old sofa on the porch. (Pro tip: outdoor furniture doesn’t have a lot of highly inflammable upholstery on it, a safety benefit you throw away when you use indoor furniture as outdoor furniture).

But we’ve got Moms Demanding Action here demanding that defense contractors in the state stop R&D, because gun deaths. Meanwhile other moms are throwing their damned cigarettes in all direction, cooking their own kids.

Manchester Fire Chief Daniel Goonan said … improper disposal of smoking materials continues to be a big problem in the city. And it’s especially dangerous on the exterior porches that are a common feature of multi-family buildings.

Residents often bring upholstered furniture outside and sit on the porches to smoke, he said. “It’s just a recipe for disaster,” he said.

That was determined to be the cause of the June 6 fire on Wilson Street that killed a couple and their two young sons. While the apartment had smoke detectors, the fire started on the outside porch, and by the time the alarm sounded, it was too late to escape, the chief said.

Fire is a powerful servant, and a terrible master.

19 thoughts on “When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Cigarettes

  1. Aesop

    A simpler solution for some of those cases might be to ban the issuance of home oxygen to current smokers. (If I were one of the affected apartment dwellers un-homed, the MD who wrote that Rx would certainly be getting served for professional negligence.)
    Jumping off a cliff, meet Gravity.

    But smokers aren’t all bad: they definitely lengthened the viability curve of Social Security, while paying confiscatory levels of taxation to maintain their addiction.

    1. Mike_C

      Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
      “Heartless doc refuses to prescribe life-saving oxygen to patient!” Lawsuit at 11.
      I’m sure you’ve seen more than one patient outside the hospital, sitting in a wheelchair alternately taking “drags” on a cigarette and hits of O2 — both through the tracheostomy hole they got because of throat cancer.

      Buddy of mine, while an intern at Major East Coast Academic Hospital, had an inpatient on O2 by nasal cannula who would not quit. And her family members kept sneaking in cigarettes and lighters to her. So at the start of his overnight call, buddy goes in and physically takes away her lighter and stash of cigs, then had her transferred from a room at the end of the hallway to right across from the nurses’ station, the better to keep eyes on her. About four hours after that he gets an emergent page to her room. He runs over to see that her bedclothes, and herself, are on fire. A nurse is trying to smother the flames with a blanket. Buddy runs over and turns off the O2 which is still running. Said he saw flames running up the nasal cannula tubing to the wall outlet. They drag patient into the hallway, still smoldering, a cigarette rather the worse for the wear clutched in her hand, and she’s yelling (not screaming in pain), “Someone get me a fucking light!” The nurse, who now has burned hands from smothering out the flames, yells back, “A light? You’re on fire, you stupid bitch!” They soon got the patient completely extinguished, and rushed her to a trauma bay in the ER, where she died of her injuries.

      Then the family sued MECAH, and my buddy. They lost, but every few years they find a new lawyer and try a different angle. The family gave up on MECAH rather quickly because that place has merciless lawyers of their own, but they keep coming after the doc, now almost 30 years after the fact. Not surprisingly, buddy hates smoking rather worse than does the average cardiologist.

      1. Kirk

        That’s an anecdote I’d use, suggesting the abolition of malpractice lawsuits… Jeesh.

        Worked with a guy who was a drug and alcohol counselor for the Army; Vietnam vet, got hooked in Vietnam on alllllllll kinds of stuff. Spent the 1970s and 1980s mostly high, on everything from meth to coke to heroin.

        When I knew him in the ’90s, he was doing the D&A counselor thing, and was pretty damn good at it. You could not bullshit this guy, whatsoever, and most of my “problem children” left him terrified of where their addiction could take them–He was brutal about it all, what it had cost him, everything. Outstanding counselor.

        Interesting point he made, though? Of all the addictive substances that he’d used, over the years, the one that was the hardest to quit was… Nicotine. Nothing, not heroin, not coke, not meth, was harder for him than that final addiction. And, he found he had to quit it, because it was a trigger for the other ones relapsing on him, so he finally did quit the nicotine, but… It was actually harder for him to quit than anything else. He and I speculated that it might be because it’s less of a “high”, and more integrated into lifestyle than the other ones, and the psychological/chemical aspects of it were a lot harder to kick because of it.

        Interesting guy. I think of him whenever I’m around a smoker who is trying to quit, and that helps me be a bit more sympathetic. You should have heard his spiel about “demon tobacco”–Actually, pretty humorous.

        1. Mike_C

          >Nicotine. Nothing, not heroin, not coke, not meth, was harder for him than that final addiction.
          Yeah, I’ve heard that from a patient who was both a smoker and a heroin addict. He managed to quit both, but I’ve always remembered his story, and (admittedly based on that N=1) have been more sympathetic toward smokers trying to quit as well. Your (or your colleague’s) point about lifestyle integration is a good one. I have a friend who was a regular heroin user (snorting). She quit that, but noted that injecting heroin has its own subculture that makes it harder to quit (true or not I have no idea). I suspect we are not only socially conditioned but also biochemically wired to be more or less susceptible to particular mood/mind altering substances. This is no great insight since some people can drink lots, or not of their own volition, while others become alcoholics. A colleague’s father has aldehyde dehydrogenase deficiency (the thing that causes some people, often East Asians, to flush bright red — and feel sick — after only a trivial amount of alcohol, such as less than a single PBR), yet is an alcoholic. Amazing.

          1. Mike_C

            >some people can drink lots, or not of their own volition,
            Arrgh. I meant: “can drink lots, or not [drink] of their own volition”. An awkward way of saying they have control over whether to drink and how much.

          2. John M.

            “She quit that, but noted that injecting heroin has its own subculture that makes it harder to quit (true or not I have no idea).”

            The way I have heard this put is that the needle is its own addiction, separate from the heroin addiction. I think some of this is true with cigarettes also, as the action of removing a smoke from the pack, putting it in the mouth, lighting it, then fondling it for a few minutes seems to be a major part of the addiction. (I read a story of one smoker who carries drinking straws around with her, cut to roughly cigarette size, and periodically steps outside, pulls out a straw and inhales through it for a few minutes. And of course, Kojak had his lollipops.)

            -John M.

          3. Aesop

            Heroin addicts at least have a biochemical excuse, of sorts: the human body has opiate receptors (that’s what endorphins are – endogenous morphine), but there are no nicotine receptors. OTOH, pain drugs don’t work on them, and they have sh*t for veins, which is a double whammy 20 years after you kick junk and come in for a broken leg. We might as well give them a leather strap to bite on when the doc sets the break.

            There’s an easy way to curb malpractice lawsuit abuse: simply require lawyers to register on the equivalent of a Meghan’s Law website, accessible by medical practitioners. “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.”

            I don’t want no lawsuits, because some doctors, nurses, et al deserve to be sued and driven out of practice; I just want a modicum of reality, common sense, and something approaching fairness.
            And world peace, and a pony.

        2. Loren

          Never could understand how anyone could quit by smoking fewer and fewer. It would seem that there would always be a good reason for just one more.
          I quit by the simple mind trick of only quitting the first one. I could have all the rest, just not that one. Worked too but it took 10 years to get over the want.

  2. Kirk

    Meh… Natural selection in action is rarely ever pretty.

    I’d be willing to bet that a bunch of fire-bug friendly genes got left behind on the savannahs, back when we were learning how to play with fire. Oog, the one who liked really big campfires? Probably inadvertently down-selected his (and, the rest of his band’s… ) genes for further contribution to posterity.

    1. Quill_&_Blade

      That’s funny, but I think somebody in the clan would have wanted to slap him around; considering the work involved in getting seasoned wood, and keeping it reasonably dry. They didn’t have the tools back then that we have now. Reminds me of an account I read in one of the Foxfire (?) books about a widow and her daughter who couldn’t manage to cut wood very well, they were found burning long smaller logs that they kept pushing farther into the stove as they burned. Which reminds me of yet -another- thing; I read somewhere that the ‘loads’ (small explosive device) that people used to put as a gag in some unsuspecting Rube’s cigarette are made of sap wood from a specific kind of tree; Birch or Elm, can’t remember. It’s just a little sliver of wood that explodes when burned.
      On a more serious note, I haven’t read the local paper much in recent years, but back when I did, every year or two a family would die by the same means: They would clear the fireplace or wood stove ashes into a cardboard box. Said ashes contained still hot embers, the box was placed out on the wooden porch, and; late at night the whole family perished when the house burned down.

      1. Loren

        Wood stoves are a far greater hazard than cigarettes ever thought of being. On just the mountain I lived on in Colorado a house a winter would go up in flames. They’re a great source of heat and comfort on a cold winter night but will bite you in the ass if you don’t install according to code or just get complacent about fire inside your home.
        As to ash; I put it into an enclosed steel bucket and take it to bare ground outside and leave it for 48 hours. Even then I’d not dump in on anything likely to burn.
        Two unlikely incidents almost caught me.
        My wife left a diamond bracelet in a western facing window. One of the diamonds focused the sunlight onto a camera case and started the thing on fire. That started the wood sill going. Gave up buying diamonds after that.
        I once refinished and old wooden planer with boiled linseed oil and a cotton rag. I left the rag on the workbench overnight and in the morning it caught fire. The pics of spontaneous combustion always showed a bunch of oily rags stuffed into a corner and left for days, not something as innocent looking as my little project. Live and learn.

        1. Quill_&_Blade

          The diamond, man that’s quite an incident. As for Linseed Oil rags, the only time I’ve seen spontaneous combustion was from a pile of rags, (probably only 1 had the stuff on it) in the back of my truck’s camper shell. It was summer in the California sun, the light was shining through the back window onto the rags. I happened to be walking by and noticed it at just the right second. Would have lost the whole truck otherwise.

  3. Keith

    A few years ago was playing an RPG called Shadowrun from the 1980’s. For reasons I don’t remember we got in a fire fight in an active hospital. One of the party members missed a shot with an APHE round. I commented out loud that they were lucky they didn’t hit an O2 line. The DM goes that’s right there in the walls, rolls some dice, looks up and announces that in the distance we hear a BOOM! Needless to say the other party members were not happy with that but the DM said it was a good call on my part.

  4. Tennessee Budd

    So, when smoking while sitting on the couch on your porch, place the kids in the defunct fridge next to the couch, for their safety. Keep ’em from catching afire. Just a thought.
    “The way I have heard this put is that the needle is its own addiction, separate from the heroin addiction…” I’ll agree. I shot heroin for a time in my early 20s. When I couldn’t get any, I’d shoot dissolved coke; not the same, but it got me high, & distracted me a bit from the lack of what I preferred (& it was a preference; I wasn’t addicted, I just really liked it–it would’ve been much more difficult to quit it had I been truly addicted). I could always have snorted the coke, but it was important to me that I shoot it, & I did so. Not proud of any of that, but I take responsibility for the choices I made.
    I’m truly grateful that I did quit, & I never touched hard drugs again. Most of my old shooting buddies are no longer aboveground, for various reasons. Hell, my motorcycles are a bad enough addiction.

    1. James F.

      Today I was on oxygen AND taking drugs intravenously. (Colonoscopy–not as much fun as it sounds.)

      Fortunately, I picked a good day to give up smoking–about twenty years ago.

      I have given up drinking (during Reagan’s first term), smoking (during the Clinton Administration) and overeating (sometime in 2008.) At that point I had to have treatment for a leg infected with cellulitis. I avoided hospitalization, but needed home intravenous for about a week. The cellulitis was great for weight loss–I lost 17 pounds in two weeks.

      When I asked the doctors if they knew what had caused the cellulitis, they said they weren’t sure, but they thought it I might have scratched my leg, had it bleed, and got an infection.

      My reaction: “Wait a minute! I’ve given up booze and drugs, cigarette smoking, and compulsive overeating. Now you’re asking me to give up SCRATCHING myself?”

      I know many people who’ve given up smoking after getting clean and sober, and most of them said it was harder. A guy who gave up smoking while he was still using said that having booze, heroin and pills doesn’t really help. You still want a cigarette.

      When I was in an alcohol therapy group in a hospital back in the early ’80s, we had a guy in our group called Phil who was in a wheelchair with one leg up and bandaged, like a gout patient. It wasn’t gout, it was nicotine-narrowed arteries in the leg.

      He said the doctors were telling him that if he didn’t stop smoking and drinking, he’d lose the leg, but he wasn’t really convinced.

      The next time I saw Phil, he was sitting in the resident’s doorway of a cheap “hotel”–a place which rented rooms upstairs over a bar, the because at the time it was built, only “hotels” got liquor licenses.

      He had a beer in one hand, a smoke in the other, and he was sitting on the ground with one leg off below the knee. I assume at that point he was convinced, but still not ready to quit.

      I also assume he’s dead by this time.

  5. Docduracoat

    You are right that smoking can cause thromboangiititis obliterans usually called Buergers disease
    I have only seen it in smokers and none of the many treatments tried have ever worked
    Amputation of the leg is always required
    I like to think of it as the Native Americans revenge

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