Legislation requiring fire safe cigarettes passed in 35 states

Published on June 3, 2008
Three out of four Americans will soon be better protected from cigarette fires

June 3, 2008 – Thirteen states passed legislation in 2008 that will require that cigarettes sold there be fire-safe. The states that have passed legislation this year will be joining 22 others, bringing the total number of states requiring cigarettes to meet this fire safety standard up to 35.

Seventy-six percent of people living in the United States will soon be better protected from cigarette fires with the passage of this life-saving legislation in their state.

Laws passed in the following states in 2008: Arizona* , Colorado *, Florida *, Georgia , Hawaii *, Idaho , Indiana , Kansas *, Oklahoma , Tennessee , Virginia , Washington , and Wisconsin. Legislation for fire-safe cigarettes has also passed in Washington D.C.

So called “fire-safe cigarettes,” if left unattended, are less likely to ignite upholstered furniture, bedding or other things that can burn. The cigarettes have thicker bands of paper, sometimes referred to as “speed bumps,” that make them far more likely to self-extinguish if someone is no longer drawing on it when it burns to the area with thicker paper.

“Cigarette fires are a leading cause of home fire deaths in this country - it’s reassuring that so many states have taken action to pass a law that will greatly reduce the number of cigarette fires and save hundreds of lives,” said James M. Shannon, president of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) which is coordinating the Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes. “The Coalition has made extraordinary progress in its work to make people safer from fire by encouraging states to require that all cigarettes be designed so that they are less likely to start a fire. The Coalition will continue its work until people in every state have this increased level of protection.”

Between 700 and 900 people die each year in the U.S. as a result of fires caused by cigarettes, according to NFPA.

New York, the first state to pass legislation in 2003, implemented the law in 2004. In addition to New York , fire-safe cigarette mandates have since become effective in 10 other states. They are: Vermont, California, Illinois, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Oregon, Maine, Kentucky, Montana and New Jersey. The law became effective in New Jersey on June 1.

Connecticut, Maryland, and Utah will be the next states to implement fire-safe cigarette laws on July 1, 2008, followed by Alaska and Rhode Island on August 1, 2008. The following 19 states have effective dates through 2010: Arizona *, Colorado *, Delaware , Florida *, Georgia , Hawaii *, Idaho , Indiana , Iowa , Kansas *, Louisiana , Minnesota , North Carolina , Oklahoma , Tennessee , Texas , Virginia , Washington , and Wisconsin. Several other states are currently considering legislation.

In 2007, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company announced plans to produce all cigarette brands for the U.S. in accordance with the fire-safety standard by the end of 2009. In March 2008, Liggett Group announced plans to incorporate fire-safe technology into all domestic cigarette brands by 2009.

*Bills waiting to be signed by the Governor.

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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. The 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.

NFPA has been a worldwide leader in providing fire, electrical, building, and life safety to the public since 1896. The mission of the international nonprofit organization is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education.

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