Maryland joins national fire-safe cigarette movement

Published on May 17, 2007

Law signed by Governor O’Malley will help protect Marylandresidents against cigarette-ignited fires

May 17, 2007 (Annapolis, Md. ) — To prevent fire deaths, injuries, and property destruction with the signature today by Governor Martin O’Malley on legislation mandating the sale and manufacture of only fire-safe cigarettes. These cigarettes are less likely to ignite clothing, bedding, or other material if left unattended.

“Maryland becomes the 13th state to protect its citizens from cigarette-ignited fires, which now 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.

“We applaud the legislature and Governor O’Malley for making this life-saving requirement a reality in Maryland, providing a higher level of safety for people throughout the state,” said Shannon. “This type of requirement is now in place in states all across the country.” 

“We continue to ask 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,” said Shannon.

About 36 percent of U.S.residents live in states where fire-safe cigarette laws have passed or are in effect. Maryland is the seventh state – with Kentucky, Utah, Oregon, New Jersey, Minnesota, and Montana– to approve a mandate this year. A bill in Iowais awaiting signature by the governor.

Other states with fire-safe cigarette laws are New York, Vermont, California, Illinois, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts.Seventeen other U.S.states are actively considering such legislation this year. Fire-safe cigarettes are mandated throughout all of Canada.

Between 700 and 900 people die per year in the 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.

During the past 10 years, there have been 175 fire deaths in Maryland, directly attributed to smoking materials, primarily cigarettes, according to State Fire Marshal Bill Barnard. This means that on average 18 Marylanders die from smoking-related fires every year.

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