Illinois Becomes 4th State to Pass Fire-Safe Cigarette Law
Cigarette-ignited fires are nation's leading cause of fire death
SPRINGFIELD, (AP) — Cigarettes sold in Illinois beginning in 2008 will have to be designed to go out when not being smoked under a new law signed Friday. The measure is aimed at reducing fires. Cigarette-ignited fires are the nation's leading cause of fire deaths, killing between 700 and 900 people each year, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
Self-extinguishing cigarettes are wrapped in special paper that contain fire-retardant bands that snuff out the cigarette when left unpuffed. Illinois joins New York, California, Vermont and Canada in mandating fire-safe cigarettes.
"Cigarettes that self-extinguish will help keep families all across the state safe from the kind of accidents that destroy homes and lives," Gov. Rod Blagojevich said in a statement announcing he had signed the legislation.
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. says the cigarettes could cause people to be more careless while smoking because they are led to believe the cigarettes are safe. The company says self-extinguishing cigarettes don't "reduce the likelihood of ignition" when dropped on upholstery or fabrics, according to its Web site. Consumer education is more effective in reducing fires, the company says.
However, a Harvard School of Public Health study found that self-extinguishing cigarettes sold in New York, while not perfect, were much more likely to go out than keep burning and perhaps cause a fire. Researchers concluded all states should require fire-safe cigarettes "to prevent needless death and suffering."
Under the new Illinois law, retailers who sell cigarettes that don't self-extinguish could face civil penalties. Fines collected would help pay for fire safety and prevention programs.