Nearly half of Americans now covered by fire safety law
July 16, 2007 (Austin, Texas) – Texas Governor Rick Perry hosted a formal bill signing today to express his strong support for a new law mandating the manufacture and sale of only fire-safe cigarettes in the state. Governor Perry was joined by fire service and public safety personnel, legislative sponsors, and fire safety advocates to laud this fire-prevention, life-saving effort.
“Cigarette-ignited fires are the leading cause of residential fire death,” said James M. Shannon, president of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), coordinator of the nationwide Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes. “This bill will save lives.”
“With Governor Perry’s signature, we are one big step closer to requiring the tobacco companies to sell only fire-safe cigarettes nationwide,” said Shannon. “We continue to ask the tobacco companies to do the right thing and switch to fire-safe cigarettes without waiting for states to legislate such a simple, life-saving requirement.”
Mandates passed by the states – including four of the five most populated states – now cover nearly half of the U.S.population.
“The tipping point can’t be far away,” Shannon stated. “Soon tobacco companies will be forced to implement fire-safe cigarettes nationwide.”
“Fire-safe” cigarettes are designed to self-extinguish if dropped or left unattended and are therefore less likely to ignite clothing, bedding, or other material. The new laws will help prevent fire deaths, injuries, and property destruction.
“Congratulations to Rep. Phil King and Sen. Royce West for championing this effort,” said Shannon. “As we’ve seen in other states, it’s great to have such strong bipartisan support for this public safety initiative.”
“This bill could not have succeeded, however, without the strong and active support of the Texas fire service and other first responders,” Shannon added. “These men and women know firsthand the destruction and human cost that cigarette fires cause.”
Between 700 and 900 people die per 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.
Cigarette fire prevention is not only gaining strength in the United States. Fire-safe cigarettes are mandated in all of Canada. They are also strongly supported by the Consumer Chief of the European Union, who is expected to press for an EU-wide fire-safe cigarette mandate later this year.
States with fire-safe cigarette laws already in effect: New York (2004), Vermont (2006), California (2007), and Oregon(2007).
States with laws on the books that have not yet taken effect: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Texas, and Utah.
States with bills awaiting Governors’ signature: Alaska
States in which fire-safe cigarette bills have been introduced: Alabama, Arizona, Hawaii, Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Washington, and Wisconsin.
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: Lorraine Carli, Public Affairs Office: +1-617-984-7275