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article is intended to provide individuals with general information
pertaining to how fire safe cigarettes save lives.
There are approximately
700 to 900 deaths per year in the U.S. resulting from fires ignited by
unattended cigarettes. New technology has given us a fire safe cigarette;
a way to reduce their capacity to burn when not being actively smoked.
Cigarette manufacturers are now wrapping cigarettes with two to three
thin bands of less porous paper that act as “speed bumps.”
If a lit cigarette is left unattended, it will self-extinguish when the
burning reaches one of these bands. Fire safe cigarettes are now mandatory
in all of Canada, and in the U.S. states of New York, Vermont, Illinois,
Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Oregon and California. Seventeen more American
states will adopt the law in 2008 and 2009.
of fire safe cigarettes
- A 1929
house fire started by a cigarette in Lowell, Massachusetts
prompted a U.S. Congresswoman by the name of Edith Nourse Rogers to
ask the National Bureau of Standards to develop a “self-snubbing”
late March of 1932, The Boston Herald
covered a story noting that a “self-snubbing”
cigarette had been produced by the Bureau,
and it urged cigarette manufacturers to adopt
the idea. However, not one cigarette company
implemented the project.
- In 1974,
Senator Phil Hart introduced a Bill to the U.S. Senate requiring “self-extinguishing”
cigarettes. It was approved by the Senate, but was then defeated by
the tobacco lobby in the U.S. House of Representatives.
- It was
not until 1979, when five children and their parents died tragically
in a cigarette-ignited fire in Westwood, MA, that the issue of fire
safe cigarettes made some headway. Congressman Joe Moakley was prompted
to introduce a fire safe cigarette Bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.
- In 1980,
Moakley was joined by Senator Alan Cranston and then Senator John Heinz
in 1984 to present the Bill to the U.S. Senate.
After being introduced into the Senate in the mid-80’s, the fire
safe cigarettes Bill went through extensive testing and research methods
overseen by the Technical Study Group (under President Reagan).
In 1990, President
Bush signed Moakley’s Fire Safe Cigarette Act and funded another
three-year research effort to come up with an effective “test method”
that would establish fire safety performance standards for cigarettes.
In 1993, The Technical
Advisory Group overseeing the program reported that the “test method”
had been developed. Moakley’s last introduction of the Fire Safe
Cigarette Bill was in 1999. It required the institution of a cigarette
fire safety standard and would oblige the Consumer Product Safety Department
to employ the standards within 18 months. However, the Bill was stalled
in Congress. Moakley died shortly thereafter and the cause was taken up
by Senators Durbin and Brownback, and Congressmen Markey and King.
Adopts the Test Method
Victory finally came in 2000 when New York became the first state to adopt
the “test method” and the law went into effect in the year
2004. Fire safe cigarette legislation is now being introduced in several
other states and countries.
Does it work?
- Fires started
by unattended lit cigarettes are the number 1 cause of fire-related
deaths in the U.S.
- In 2003, there
were approximately 2600 cigarette-related fires. In 2005, that number
had decreased by 22%, a significant drop.
- A Harvard-led
research study in 2005 found that regular cigarettes will burn to the
end 99% of the time, while fire safe cigarettes will burn to the end
only 10% of the time.
also found that there was no significant taste
difference between the two types, no substantial
difference in toxicity levels, no increase
in the cost of a pack of cigarettes, and the
percentage of cigarette sales stayed the same.
Having experienced 2 house fires, John Manley now devotes some
of his spare time educating people about the importance of having fire
extinguishers, CO and fire alarms, and proper escape plans though the
website: Fire Extinguisher:
101 - www.fire-extinguisher101.com.