[The Luton News: Thursday, June 26th, 1919]
A serious situation has arisen locally with regard to fire insurance owing to the attitude adopted by the offices concerned. In consequence of several big fires – one at St Albans and others at Luton – the claims made by the staple industry have been out of all proportion to the premiums paid, and the official view is taken that the risks have been immensely increased by the smoking habit which has largely developed since the war.
The result is that premiums are already being doubled, or thereabouts; they may be quadrupled in the not distant future, and if smoking in the warehouses and factories is not stopped, some of the offices may decline to renew the policies at any price.
We do not know to what extent the carelessness of smokers has been responsible for fires in this neighbourhood, but the materials used in the straw trade are necessarily of a very inflammable nature, and it is quite conceivable that an unextinguished match or a cigarette end thrown on the floor might lead to heavy claims upon the insurance companies.
Faced with the conditions laid down by the fir offices, local manufacturers have only one course open to them, and that is to prevent smoking on their premises. Doubtless it will seem a hardship to those to whom the habit has become a sort of second nature, but even in their case it may prove to be a blessing in disguise.
Whatever may be said about smoking in moderation, there can be no question that excessive smoking is likely to be prejudicial to health, and men who smoke at work are not likely to refrain from it in their leisure hours.
A meeting of hat trade representatives at the offices of the Luton Chamber of Commerce on Monday, June 23rd, decided unanimously that smoking should be absolutely prohibited during working hours.