Fire-safe cigarettes gain momentum in Indiana

Published on November 19, 2007

Public safety effort is sweeping the country

November 19, 2007 (Indianapolis) — The Indiana Fire Chiefs’ Association and other members of the fire service stood with Sen. Jeff Drozda at the statehouse today to support legislation to prevent fire deaths, injuries and property destruction by mandating that only “fire-safe” cigarettes be sold in the state.

If supporters are successful, Indiana would be the 23rd state to require that cigarettes self-extinguish if dropped or left unattended.

“Cigarette-ignited fires are the leading cause of residential fire deaths, killing 700 to 900 Americans each year,” said Russ Sanders of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), coordinator of the nationwide Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes. “Fire-safe cigarettes are a proven way to prevent such fires.”

Smoking is the leading single cause of fire fatalities in Indiana, according to data released by the state’s Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) for the period from January 1, 2000 to December 31, 2006.

With 26 fatalities, the rate of death from smoking fires was six times greater than overall residential fire deaths. Although fires caused by smoking accounted for only 2.08 percent of residential fires, they caused 12.94 percent of civilian fire deaths.

Fire-safe cigarettes, sometimes referred to as “fire standards compliant” or “reduced ignition propensity” cigarettes are less likely to ignite clothing, bedding, or other material if left unattended.

Because these deadly fires often happen at night when the smoker falls asleep, one in four victims of cigarette fires is not the smoker, according to NFPA. Other victims, often children, are themselves asleep in the residence.

“Cigarette-ignited fires hurt and kill smokers and non-smokers alike,” said NFPA’s Sanders. “By requiring tobacco companies to sell only fire-safe cigarettes in Indiana, precious lives will be saved.”

According to the I-DHS data, 61 civilians and 29 firefighters were injured in smoking fires in Indianafrom 2000 through 2006.

“First-responders know the destruction and human cost that cigarette fires cause,” said Sanders, himself the former fire chief of Louisville, Kentucky. “There is no excuse for withholding proven life-saving technologies from civilians and rescue personnel.”

Governors in 22 states have signed laws requiring the sale and manufacture of fire-safe cigarettes. States with fire-safe cigarette mandates include tobacco producing states, Kentucky and North Carolina, and some of the most populous states such as New York, California, Illinois and Texas(see list at bottom). Today, more than 52 percent of Americans live in states requiring compliance with this important public safety initiative.

R.J. Reynolds recently announced that it will voluntarily switch all of its cigarette brands to fire-standards compliance by the end of 2009.

“We congratulate R.J. Reynolds for its leadership and ask other cigarette manufacturers to follow suit,” said Sanders.”

“The time for fire-safe cigarettes is now,” said Sanders.

Fire-safe cigarettes are mandated throughout all of Canada and leaders in the European Union and in Australiaare considering similar mandates.

The Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes, officially launched in March 2006, includes fire service members; medical and public health practitioners; advocates for consumers, the elderly, and people with disabilities; and others. Coalition members are committed to saving lives and preventing injuries by reducing the threat of cigarette-ignited fires. 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, please visit the Coalition’s Web site.

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As of the beginning of September 2007, there were 22 states with laws establishing a statewide standard for cigarette ignition propensity:

New York (effective June 28, 2004),
Vermont (effective May 1, 2006),
California (effective Jan. 1, 2007),
Oregon (effective July 1, 2007),
New Hampshire (effective Oct. 1, 2007),
Illinois (effective Jan. 1, 2008),
Maine (effective Jan. 1, 2008),
Massachusetts (effective Jan. 1, 2008),
Kentucky (effective April 1, 2008),
Utah (effective July 1, 2008),
Montana (effective May 1, 2008),
New Jersey (effective Jun. 1, 2008),
Maryland (effective Jul. 1, 2008),
Connecticut (effective Jul. 1, 2008),
Alaska (effective Aug. 1, 2008),
Rhode Island (effective Aug. 1, 2008),
Iowa (effective Jan. 1, 2009),
Minnesota (effective Jan. 1 2009),
Texas (effective Jan. 1, 2009),
Delaware (effective Jan. 1, 2009),
Louisiana (effective Aug. 31, 2009) and
North Carolina (effective Jan. 1, 2010)

Contact: Lorraine Carli, Public Affairs Office: +1-617-984-7275

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