Illustration: John Roman
The established cigarette fire safety performance standard is based on ASTM E2187, which requires that no more than 25 percent of 40 cigarettes tested burn their full length when placed on 10 layers of standard filter paper. Photo: National Institute of Standards and Technology.
What is a fire-safe cigarette?
A fire-safe cigarette has a reduced propensity to burn when left unattended. The most common fire-safe technology used by cigarette manufacturers is to wrap cigarettes with two or three thin bands of less-porous paper that act as “speed bumps” to slow down a burning cigarette. If a fire-safe cigarette is left unattended, the burning tobacco will reach one of these speed bumps and self-extinguish.
Fire-safe cigarettes meet an established cigarette fire safety performance standard, based on ASTM E2187, Standard Test Method for Measuring the Ignition Strength of Cigarettes.
Fire-safe cigarettes save lives
The good news is that improved standards for cigarette-resistant materials in furniture and mattresses, and public education have all helped cut down the number of fires caused by smoking materials and have saved many lives.
It is also good news that deaths due to cigarette-ignited fires are down by 21% from 2003, the latest year before any state implemented a fire-safe cigarette law. The latest NFPA report on smoking-related fires estimates that the decline will reach 30% by the time data is in from 2011 and every state has fully implemented a fire-safe cigarette law.