R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company’s recent announcement that it will manufacture all of its cigarette brands using “fire-safe” technology is a victory for all of those interested in public safety, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the group it coordinates, the Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes
“Nearly two years ago, we began urging major tobacco companies to switch to this life-saving technology,” said James M. Shannon, NFPA’s president. “While it could have been done sooner, I applaud their action and urge every other tobacco company to do the same. There is no reason everyone in the country shouldn’t have the same protection.”
Cigarette-ignited fires are the leading cause of residential fire deaths. Each year in this country, 700 to 900 people die in cigarette-ignited fires. One quarter of those people killed–often including children and the elderly–are not the smoker. So called “fire-safe” cigarettes are designed to self-extinguish if dropped or left unattended. They are less likely to ignite clothing, bedding, or other material.
Absent action by tobacco companies, NFPA and the Coalition coordinated a state-by-state campaign to encourage passage of fire-safe cigarette mandates. To date, 22 states have passed fire-safe cigarette mandates. In 2007 alone, 16 governors from all across the country signed legislation into law. Even states in the heart of tobacco country, such as Kentucky and North Carolina, have passed “fire-safe” cigarette laws. Legislators in many more states are poised to introduce similar bills in the next legislative session.
“That state-by-state movement has been incredibly successful so far and has resulted in the tipping point for this effort,” continued Shannon. “I believe the legislative mandates are an important factor in R.J. Reynolds’ decision to manufacture and sell only fire-safe cigarettes nationwide.”
“If cigarette manufacturers had begun producing only fire-safe cigarettes 20 years ago,” said Shannon, “an estimated 15,000 lives could have been saved by now. While we can not save those who have perished in tragic cigarette fires, this action will save others.”
The Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes will keep working until all cigarettes are manufactured to self-extinguish. The Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes was officially launched by NFPA in March 2006. The Coalition, which includes fire service members; medical and public health practitioners; advocates for consumers, the elderly, and people with disabilities; and others, is committed to saving lives and preventing injuries by reducing the threat of cigarette-ignited fires. For more information, please visit the Coalition’s Web site: firesafecigarettes.org