New Coalition and a call to action
NFPA Journal®, May/June 2006
NFPA has organized a new group whose goal is to bring about the adoption of laws requiring that all cigarettes sold in the United States be made using a technology that makes them far less likely to cause fires.
The Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes, whose formation was announced in March at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., has a straightforward purpose. We want every state in the nation to pass legislation that follows the standard adopted by New York in 2004. We believe that many of the 700 to 900 deaths caused by smoking each year will be prevented if we are successful. Vermont and California have already enacted the New York approach, and the Illinois legislature has passed a bill that we expect will be signed into law by the Governor before you read this. Editor’s Note: The Illinois legislation was signed into law by Governor Rod Blagojevich on May 19 and will be effective on January 1, 2008. John Nicholson’s article in this issue of NFPA Journal ® explains more about the Coalition.
I want to encourage you to get involved in your own state to bring about this life-saving reform. The Coalition is working to ensure that legislation is introduced in every state and that all the legislation is uniform so its opponents, principally the tobacco companies, will be unable to argue that the state-by-state approach will somehow impede interstate commerce. In the past, tobacco companies have used this argument against state action to shift the focus to Washington, D.C., where they successfully kept the bill bottled up in Congress.
The momentum has shifted now, and every state that acts gets us closer to the inevitable point where the tobacco companies will give up this fight and switch all their manufacturing to only fire-safe cigarettes.
This is truly a grass-roots campaign. As more people hear about the idea, the Coalition is getting inquiries from legislators around the country asking about the legislation and seeking our help to bring the movement for fire-safe cigarettes to their states.
NFPA’s members and its supporters can make the difference in this crucial battle. There are several things that each of you can do right now.
First, go to the Coalition Web site, and educate yourself about the issue and the Coalition. Second, sign the online petition supporting fire-safe cigarettes and tell the tobacco companies to stop needlessly killing people in fires. The petition asks tobacco companies to manufacture only fire-safe cigarettes.
Third, contact your state legislator and tell him or her that you want fire-safe cigarette legislation in your state. If legislation has already been introduced in your state, tell your legislators to do everything they can do to get it passed. If it has not been introduced, download the model legislation and get your legislator to introduce the model legislation.
Finally, tell your friends about this idea and get them involved. If you are reading NFPA Journal, you already know how important fire-safety education, laws, and enforcement are. Fire-safe cigarette laws nationwide will save hundreds of lives a year. Put another way, every day that passes without our having achieved this goal will cost lives. Therefore, it is vital that we mobilize our members and supporters at the grassroots level to get behind the Coalition and get these laws in place.
For more than 100 years, NFPA has been the leader in bringing about reforms that have saved the lives of countless children, elderly people, workers, and families. The movement to adopt fire-safe cigarette laws is the next big step forward in saving lives and protecting property from fire. As in all of our previous successes, this hard-fought battle will be won because of the work of thousands of people and their commitment to life safety. It is what NFPA is all about; it is what we have always been about.