Daughter's warning over illegal cigarettes that killed Spalding mother June Buffham

  • Adam Fowler went to meet June's daughter, Julie, in Boston on Wednesday, where she was launching Operation June.

The daughter of a woman who died in a house fire caused by an illegal cigarette says she remains "haunted" by the incident.

June Buffham, who was 71, lost her life at her home in Spalding in Lincolnshire in 2012 after a blaze which started after she dropped a cigarette in her armchair.

Since her death her daughter, Julie Grant, has campaigned to raise awareness of the increased risks caused by unregulated cigarettes.

She said: "I'll never forget hearing those words, 'there has been a fire at home and your mum is dead' – they will haunt me for the rest of my life.

"I want to do everything I can to help stop another family going through what mine went through. It may be ten years since my mum passed, but the pain is still as raw as if it had happened yesterday."

The fire in June Buffham's home cause huge damage. Credit: Lincolnshire County Council

Fire experts say illegal cigarettes are particularly dangerous because they do not have 'speed bumps' in the paper that cause them to self-extinguish if they are not being smoked.

Julie has joined forces with Lincolnshire Trading Standards and the fire and rescue service as part of a new campaign named Operation June in her mother's honour.

She said: "I knew that my mum smoked, but I had never really thought about the types of cigarettes she was smoking, just that they were a cheaper brand.

"And I was totally unaware of the increased risk she was putting herself at by smoking illegal cigarettes."

The fire at June's home was linked to an illegal cigarette

She added: "The people that sell these products are only thinking about their own financial gain, and not the real human consequences of their actions. They're ruining lives and they need to be stopped."

As part of the new campaign, roadshows are being held in Boston and Lincoln to provide fire safety advice.

Emma Milligan, operational delivery manager for Lincolnshire Trading Standards, said: "Since June's death, we've cracked down hard on those selling illicit tobacco, and taken tens of thousands of dodgy cigarettes off Lincolnshire's streets.

The fire was caused by Jin Ling cigarettes. Credit: Lincolnshire County Council

"Unfortunately, it is an ongoing battle as criminals find new, elaborate ways of trying to hide these things from us. However, working on gathered intelligence and tip-offs from the public, we can find the shops that sell these products, uncover their hiding places, and bring sellers to justice.

"It's not just the fire hazard these products pose, and the obvious health dangers, we find that the sale of illegal cigarettes attracts other anti-social behaviour and criminal activity to an area."

Further fire safety advice on smoking and vaping can be found here.