Fire Safer Cigs: CA Fire safe cigarettes


Bill: Require all cigarettes sold to be ‘fire-safe’

This is the amended bill
Link below is the history
This is the bill status
this is the analysis
The vote on the bill

Fire-safe cigarettes pose health risks

June 28, 2005
By Steve Geissinger, SACRAMENTO BUREAU
Inside Bay Area?
SACRAMENTO – A bill by Democratic lawmakers that is aimed at making cigarettes more fire safe – but would make them potentially more dangerous to smokers’ health – faces its last key hurdle in the Legislature today.
The Assembly bill, set for a Senate hearing and then likely swift final approval, has advanced without discussion of data buried in a Harvard School of Public Health study this year that shows fire-safe cigarettes contain at least 10 percent more of two harmful ingredients.

At the same time, recent state fire statistics indicate the measure may not be crucial to preventing deaths of smokers or firefighters due to longtime household fire-proofing rules and other factors. Nationally, activists have tied hundreds of deaths to unattended cigarettes.

The legislation, which would ban the sale of traditional cigarettes starting next year, also could cost the deficit-ridden state millions in tax revenue as smokers dodge higher California cigarette prices by making purchases on the Internet or elsewhere, according to state tax officials.

The measure – principally authored by Assemblywoman Wilma Chan, D-Oakland, and Assemblyman Paul Koretz,

D-West Hollywood – mimics legislation adopted by New York and under consideration in a handful of other states with support from health and public safety groups.

While some U.S. cigarette makers have remained neutral on the California bill, others have opposed it, citing costs and other problems.

But Koretz said that “we now know that not only are these cigarettes easy to manufacture, but they are as acceptable to consumers as regular cigarettes.”

“How many more lives must be lost before other states gain access to safer cigarettes,” Koretz said, referring to out-of-state lawsuits over the issue and other legal battles involving the tobacco industry.

The Harvard report on fire-safe cigarettes shows in complex tables that levels of carbon monoxide – related to heart disease – and naphthalene – linked to cancer – are boosted the most when manufacturers use special, banded paper that slows burning, which is helpful when a cigarette is left unattended.

Carbon monoxide is boosted by 11.4 percent and naphthalene by 13.9 percent. Other carcinogens, such as fluorine, are increased by about 6 percent.

Contact Sacramento bureau chief Steve Geissinger at

?Dear Mr. Sanders:

? The belief that “fire-safe” cigarettes are safer is a fallacy!? They are dangerous!?

? I have been smoking fire-safe cigarettes for the past year, because I buy my cigarettes from a New York Indian reservation.? Even though these “banded paper” cigarettes APPEAR to be out, the tobacco is still smoldering inside.? Only the cigarette paper stops burning.? What may APPEAR to be an extinguished cigarette can many times be activated by simply taking a drag on it.?? In ashtrays, even when these cigarettes are “butted out”, they can continue to burn.? After two close calls with wastebasket fires in my home, I am no longer quick to dump used ashtrays.

? Smokers are a stubborn lot and will continue to smoke in their cars and while engaged in other tasks.? When the tobacco INSIDE the cigarette continues to burn, occasionally the unburned paper at the end of the cigarette ignites suddenly and falls from the cigarette.? If this happens to a driver in heavy traffic, putting out the burning paper that has fallen on them is truly dangerous.?

? Those supporting the introduction of these “fire-safe” cigarettes may be non-smokers, but it would be a very wise move to ask people who smoke how well these “safe” cigarettes work.? I hope the California politicians will remember that the next time they are in their autos on the highway, and are driving next to a car containing a smoking driver.

Garnet Dawn
The Smoker’s Club, Inc.
Midwest Regional Director
Illinois Smokers Group

?Bill: Require all cigarettes sold to be ‘fire-safe’
? By Jim Sanders — Bee Capitol Bureau
? January 23, 2005

? California lawmakers will consider requiring that only “fire-safe” cigarettes designed to extinguish when left in ashtrays or dropped onto bedroom mattresses can be sold in the state.?? Legislation to be unveiled Monday comes nearly seven months after implementation of a similar standard in New York.

? The goal is to save lives and property destroyed by fires ignited by cigarette butts that are carelessly or accidentally discarded.

? “Pretty soon, it’s going to sweep the country,” predicted Steve Blackledge, legislative director for the California Public Interest Group. “It’s common sense and it’s safer for consumers.”

?? Assemblyman Paul Koretz, D-West Hollywood, has scheduled a news conference Monday to launch his legislation.

? The technology already exists to produce cigarettes that largely self-extinguish, but manufacturers warn that it is not foolproof and can give smokers a false sense of security.

? “Anything that burns and is handled in a careless manner represents a potential fire hazard if it comes in contact with flammable material,” the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. says in a written position statement about fire-safe cigarettes.

? Fire-safe cigarettes are designed to taste no different, but some manufacturers fear there could be a backlash by smokers who, for example, place a cigarette in an ashtray to have a conversation and later find it extinguished.

? The tobacco industry also has expressed concerns that fire-safe cigarettes, while no more toxic, could prompt changes in consumer behavior – perhaps puffing more frequently – that potentially could exacerbate health risks.

? “There’s obviously no such thing as a safe cigarette,” said Jamie Drogin, spokeswoman for Philip Morris USA. “The safest thing for a person to do to reduce the health effects of smoking is to quit.”

? Self-extinguishing cigarettes produced by Philip Morris rely on a “banded paper technology,” consisting of ridges in the paper that act like speed bumps in slowing, and eventually snuffing, the cigarette’s flame,
she said.

? Drogin said she did not know precisely how many minutes a cigarette equipped with such technology remains lit when unattended.

? In New York, Philip Morris has not hiked its cigarette prices in response to the banded-paper requirement, Drogin said.

? The company feels that self-extinguishing requirements should be set by the federal government, not by states, so that companies aren’t faced someday with dozens of conflicting standards, Drogin said.

? Smokers interviewed randomly Saturday in downtown Sacramento had mixed feelings about self-extinguishing cigarettes.

? Maria Sacaluga, 60, said it might be a good thing if smokers got frustrated by cigarettes that died if not puffed enough.

? “Anything to make it easier to stop smoking, I’m for it,” she said.?? But Carl Cooper, 54, doubts claims that taste would be unaffected.

? “I don’t think it will (sell),” he said. “I think people will avoid

? In California, Koretz’s legislation will use the same definition of fire-safe cigarettes that was adopted by New York, according to the bill’s sponsor, Andrew McGuire of the nonprofit Trauma Foundation at San Francisco General Hospital.

? New York’s law is based on a test in which a lit cigarette is placed on 10 layers of laboratory filter paper and must extinguish before burning its entire depth. Brands cannot be sold if more than 25 percent of their cigarettes tested fail the test.

? McGuire said fire-safe cigarettes come with no guarantees, but they are effective and can be invaluable in saving lives.

? “If I were staying on the 14th floor of a (hotel) and someone passed out with a cigarette and started a fire, I think it’s in my best interest to have the cigarette be fire-safe,” he said.

? Between 900 and 1,000 people die annually in the United States from cigarette-caused fires. An additional 2,500 to 3,000 people are injured, according to the American Burn Association.

? In addition to being equipped with less porous paper, cigarettes can be made more fire-safe by using less dense tobacco, a smaller diameter and a filter tip, the burn association states in a report.

? Koretz could not be reached for comment on his legislation.

? New York adopted the nation’s first fire-safe cigarette law in 2000, but implementation was delayed until July.

? Besides California, similar statutes are expected to be considered in Massachusetts, Maryland and numerous other states, McGuire said.

? Legislative proposals to require fire-safe cigarettes have surfaced sporadically, and unsuccessfully, for more than two decades. Several futile attempts were made in California.

? The tobacco industry has used a variety of arguments in years past to sidetrack such legislation, ranging from questions about the viability of fire-safe cigarettes to claims that no testing method properly predicted ignition propensity, according to a report in the Harvard Journal on Legislation.

? Supporters claim prospects for passing such legislation have improved substantially, however, because of New York’s law and the tobacco industry’s success in developing banded cigarettes.

? For more than four years, Philip Morris has used self-extinguishing technology, known as “PaperSelect,” on its Merit brand cigarettes sold nationwide.

? Philip Morris reported a 19.6 percent drop in Merit sales nationwide the year after its banded paper was introduced.

? Officials said a “significant portion” of the decline appeared to stem from consumer rejection of banded paper, though other factors may have contributed, including marketing support and an overall decline in cigarette consumption.

? Drogin said the company has reached no final conclusions about smoker acceptance.

? “We’re going to continue to evaluate (it) and refine the technology as needed,” she said.

?About the writer:? The Bee’s Jim Sanders can be reached at (916) 326-5538 or

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