States Push Fire-Safe Cigarettes

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States Push Fire-Safe Cigarettes

WASHINGTON -- An increasing number of states are passing laws that require the sale of self-extinguishing cigarettes, and by doing so, circumventing more than 30 years of tobacco industry opposition to federal safe-cigarette legislation, USA Today reported.

In 2009, 32 states will have such laws on the books, nearly tripling the number of states that had fire-safe laws at the start of 2007, the report stated. By the end of 2009, 14 states will join 18 that already require retailers to purchase and sell only fire-safe cigarettes, which are designed to go out if dropped or set aside, Lorraine Carli, vice president of communications at the National Fire Protection Association and the Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes, told USA Today.

Fire-safe cigarettes will be mandatory in Delaware, Iowa, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Texas as of Jan. 1. Laws go into effect during 2009 in Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Washington and Wisconsin. Six more states are set to enact laws in 2010, while seven others have proposals for such legislation, Carli said.

In Texas, the new law gives distributors and retailers until 2010 to sell off old inventory, according to a report by The Associated Press. For instance, distribution centers that serve 7-Eleven convenience stores have already converted to fire-safe cigarettes, but the Dallas-based chain will first sell off any remaining inventory, Margaret Chabris, 7-Eleven spokeswoman, told the AP.

And in Oklahoma, QuikTrip Corp. began phasing in the new cigarettes before the Jan. 1 deadline and is fully compliant, company spokesman Mike Thornbrugh told Tulsa World.

Federal legislation for reduced ignition propensity cigarettes was first proposed in 1974, and last failed in 2006.

David Howard, spokesman for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., the second-largest tobacco company in the U.S., told the paper the company opposed federal legislation not because of the cost, but because it didn't include "pre-emptive language," preventing states and localities from passing their own, differing regulations. He added R.J. Reynolds will start making all of its cigarettes fire-safe by the end of 2009.

Phillip Morris USA, the largest tobacco company in the U.S., will not make all of its cigarettes fire-safe, but will "continue to work with the states," spokesman David Sutton told USA Today.