Oregon joins movement of states mandating the sale of only fire-safe cigarettes

Published on April 17, 2007

Legislation signed by Governor Kulongoski will help protect Oregonians against cigarette-ignited fires

April 17, 2007 (Salem, OR) Governor Ted Kulongoski took an important step in promoting public safety today by signing legislation that will mandate the sale of only fire-safe cigarettes throughout the state. These cigarettes are less likely to ignite clothing, bedding, or other material if left unattended.

“By requiring the sale of fire-safe cigarettes, Oregonwill provide its citizens with a proven, effective way to protect against cigarette-ignited fires,” said James M. Shannon, president of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) which is coordinating the nationwide Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes. “We applaud the legislature and Governor Kulongoski for approving and signing this legislation so that the people of Oregoncan benefit from a higher level of safety.”

Between 700 and 900 people die each year in the U.S. as the result of fires caused by cigarettes according to NFPA. One quarter of those people killed – often including children and the elderly – are not the smoker. According to the Oregon state fire marshal’s office, 18 people have been killed in the last two years in the state due to cigarette-ignited fires. Since 1979, a total of 147 Oregonians have lost their lives due to these types of fires.

About 30 percent of U.S. residents live in states where fire-safe cigarette laws have passed or are in effect. Oregonis the ninth state to require the sale of such cigarettes. It is the third – with Kentucky and Utah– to approve a mandate this year. Two states – New Jersey and Maryland– have bills awaiting gubernatorial signatures. Other states with fire-safe cigarette laws are New York, Vermont, California, Illinois, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts.Several other U.S.states are considering such legislation. Fire-safe cigarettes are mandated throughout all of Canada.

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.

Contact: Eileen Scafidi, Public Affairs Office: +1-617-984-7275