Political Support for Fire-Safe Cigarettes Increases

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Political Support for Fire-Safe Cigarettes Increases

The tobacco industry is putting up a fight against an increasing number of states that want to pass legislature requiring cigarettes to be "fire-safe," reported the Los Angeles Times.

Spokesmen for the tobacco companies said they would prefer a national standard on self-extinguishing cigarettes. To date, any federal legislation for fire-safe cigarettes has not passed in Congress. Ronald Milstein, general counsel for Lorillard Tobacco Co. told the Los Angeles Times "A patchwork of state laws would be impossible for us to comply with."

Current states that have passed "fire-safe" cigarette laws are California, New York and Vermont. Illinois law will take effect in 2008, and by then, the report said approximately a quarter of Americans will live in a state requiring self-extinguishing cigarettes. California's law was passed last year and will take effect Jan. 1, 2007.

New York passed a "fire-safe" cigarette law in 2004. Eamon Moynihan, a spokesman with the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control told the Los Angeles Times "preliminary indications are that it has reduced deaths."

The self-extinguishing cigarettes are wrapped in thin bands of paper. The ridges make the cigarette burn slower, and will extinguish the cigarette if left unattended. According to the report, even though the cigarettes do not reduce consumption or cost more to make, the tobacco industry still fights efforts made by other states to pass similar legislation.

James Shannon, president of the National Fire Protection Association told the Los Angeles Times the laws are needed because smoldering cigarettes kill 700 to 900 people annually in home fires. The fires start when lit cigarettes roll off ashtrays onto mattresses or sofa cushions, and end up costing $300 million in property damage.