Report: Tobacco money helped shift focus of house fires to furniture

CHICAGO — Tobacco industry money and influence, including support of a national fire marshals group, helped take the focus off cigarettes as an ignition source for house fires, the Chicago Tribune reports in the second article in its series on flame retardant chemicals.

Instead, the industry shifted attention to the fuel sources - including sofas, chairs and other home furnishings.

With the further support of chemical manufacturers, the efforts resulted in the addition of flame-retardant chemicals to furniture and successfully put off any mandate for "fire safe" cigarettes, the Tribune reported. It said the fire marshals group continued to support the use of the chemicals "even after government scientists showed that flame retardants in household furniture were not protecting Americans from fire in any meaningful way."

The four-part Tribune series is slated to continue through Thursday.

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