California fire-safe cigarette mandate takes effect January 1

Published on December 20, 2006
Californiafire-safe cigarette mandate takes effect January 1
Law requires tobacco companies to make and sell only reduced fire risk cigarettes statewide

December 20, 2006 — Only fire-safe cigarettes will be manufactured and sold in Californiastarting January 1, 2007.

Fire-safe cigarettes, which are less likely to burn and cause fires when left unattended, were mandated by AB178, the California Cigarette Safety and Firefighter Protection Act, included in a child protection package signed by Governor Schwarzenegger in October 2005.

“Many hundreds of lives are lost, thousands are injured, and millions of dollars in damage is sustained in fires caused by cigarettes each year,” said James M. Shannon, President of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). “California’s mandate, which protects more than one out of ten U.S. residents, certainly increases the pressure on tobacco companies to make all of their cigarettes fire-safe.”

The Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes, coordinated by NFPA, is spearheading efforts across the country to pass statewide fire-safe cigarette laws. The Coalition includes fire service members, consumer and safety groups, medical and public health practitioners, the hospitality and insurance industries, and others.

California is one of six states that have adopted fire-safe cigarette laws, and is the third – after New York and Vermont– to have the law take effect. The other states are: Illinois, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts.A similar law is progressing in New Jersey’s legislature. Several additional states are expected to file similar legislation for the 2007 session.

“More than a quarter of Americans live in states that have passed fire-safe cigarette laws” said Shannon. “All indications are that 2007 is going to be another big year. There will be a point at which the tobacco companies will feel compelled to manufacture and sell only reduced ignition propensity cigarettes nationwide. The question is, how many more lives will be lost before that happens?”

According to NFPA, 700-900 people die per year in a cigarette related fire.

“In the meantime, we encourage the state legislatures to implement similar requirements to prevent the needless loss of life,” said Shannon.

California Assemblymember Paul Koretz (D-West Hollywood) was the primary sponsor of AB178. Governor Schwarzenegger joined the bill with other child safety initiatives in recognition of the fact that one in four cigarette fire victims is someone other than the smoker.

The Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes includes the National Fire Protection Association, AARP,American Burn Association, American College of Emergency Physicians,American Fire Sprinkler Association,American Health Care Association, AMERIND Risk Management Corporation, Asian American Hotel Owners Association, ASTM International, Automatic Fire Alarm Association, Inc.,Boston Society of Vulcans, Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer's Association, Center for Campus Fire Safety,Center for Social Gerontology, Congressional Fire Services Institute, Firemen's Association of New York, Florida Association of Fire & Life Safety Educators, Home Safety Council,Illinois Fire Inspectors Association, International Association of Arson Investigators,International Association of Black Professional Fire Fighters, International Association of Fire Chiefs, International Association of Fire Fighters,International Association of Hispanic Firefighters, International Code Council,International Fire Marshals Association, Massachusetts Call/Volunteer Firefighters Associations, Massachusetts Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes,Metropolitan Fire Chiefs, National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, National Association of Hispanic Firefighters, National Association of State Fire Marshals, National Center for Assisted Living, National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, National Fire Sprinkler Association, National Native American Fire Chiefs Association, National Safety Council, National Volunteer Fire Council, Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors, Polyurethane Foam Association, Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, Public Citizen, Safe Kids Worldwide, Trauma Foundation, Uniform Fire Code Association,Washington State Association of Fire Chiefs, and Western Fire Chiefs Association.

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