Most States Now on Board with Fire-Safe Cigarette Laws
According to the National Fire Protection Association, between 700 and 900 people die each year in the United States as a result of fires caused by cigarettes, which is why the Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes is working to see fire-safe cigarette legislation passed in every state. So far, 27 states have passed laws requiring the sale of only fire-safe cigarettes, so called because of the thicker bands of paper used in their making. The bands act as "speed bumps" to slow down the burning and make them less likely to ignite clothing, bedding, and other things that can burn if left unattended.
Virginia, Indiana, Idaho, Washington, and Wisconsin are the latest states to pass the legislation, having done so this year, and Montana will be next with implementation of its fire-safe cigarette law scheduled to go into effect on May 1. New York was the first state to pass the legislation in 2003, with implementation in 2004. In all, nearly 60 percent of the U.S. population now lives in a state where fire-safe cigarette laws have been implemented or will be soon.
"It's terrific that over half of the states in this country have chosen to better protect residents from cigarette-ignited fires by passing this legislation, and we want to see this life-saving technology in every state," said James M. Shannon, president of the NFPA, which is coordinating the Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes. "The Coalition has been extremely successful and is well on its way to making this higher level of fire safety a reality for everyone."
Officially launched in March 2006, the coalition includes fire service members; medical and public health practitioners; advocates for consumers, the elderly, and people with disabilities; and others. The Coalition has asked tobacco companies to start selling fire-safe cigarettes nationwide and is working to see fire-safe cigarette legislation passed in every state. For more information, visit www.firesafecigarettes.org.
In addition to New York , fire-safe cigarette mandates have since become effective in eight other states. They are: Vermont, California, Illinois, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Oregon, Maine, and Kentucky. Laws have been passed in the following 18 states and have scheduled effective dates through 2010: Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. Several other states are currently considering legislation.
In 2007, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. announced plans to produce all cigarette brands for the United States in accordance with the fire-safety standard by the end of 2009. In March 2008, Liggett Group announced plans to incorporate fire-safe technology into all domestic cigarette brands by 2009.