Cigarette Fire-Safety Law Takes Effect In New York
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- Smokers who linger between drags on their cigarette may need to be a tad more careful in New York. Their smokes will self-extinguish if not puffed on regularly.
Beginning Monday, New York becomes the first state to require new ``fire-safe'' cigarettes to be sold. The law is meant to cut down on the number of smoking-related fires.
For the past several months, companies have rushed to meet the deadline to supply vendors with the new cigarettes, which are wrapped in special ultra-thin banded paper that essentially inhibits burning.
But manufacturers warn that though the new cigarettes go out on their own, they're not fireproof and careless handling could still lead to fires.
``It's up to individual smokers to make sure that they do not let these products lull them into a false sense of security,'' said Ellen Matthews, a spokeswoman for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., the nation's No. 2 cigarette maker.
The lower-ignition paper does nothing to curtail the toxicity of cigarettes or reduce the health effects of smoking. About 900 Americans die each year and another 2,500 are hurt by fires started by cigarettes left unattended.
Customers can see if their pack of cigarettes comply with the new law by checking for a tiny mark next to the bar code - an asterisk, a dash or a diamond.
Philip Morris USA, the nation's No. 1 cigarette maker, has marketed its Merit brand nationally with the banded paper since 2000, but it had to tweak it to meet New York's standards, said Brendan McCormick, a Philip Morris spokesman.
Lorillard Tobacco Co., maker of Newport and Kent, has been selling the lower-ignition cigarettes in the New York market since March.
Last week, anti-smoking advocates sent a letter to the major cigarette makers, urging them to use New York's standards to produce and distribute fire-safe cigarettes to other states. Tobacco companies have said there's no immediate plan to roll out the new cigarettes nationally.
New York retailers have not noticed any change in sales or excessive complaints from smokers, except for some who are annoyed when their cigarettes go out automatically.
``The change has been uneventful. We're hopeful that there won't be any need or cause for customers to seek out other sources of cigarettes,'' said James Calvin, president of the New York state Association of Convenience Stores, a non-profit group representing 5,000 mini-marts and corner stores.
But if smokers head to neighboring states or buy regular packs of cigarettes through mail-order or the Internet, there's not much New York can do.
``If people go outside, that's a little bit beyond our control,'' said Peter Constantakes, a spokesman for New York's State Department, which helped draft the fire-safety law.
Most popular brands will be available in New York with the lower-ignition paper, but some tobacco companies have abandoned converting lower-end brands due to costs.
Nikki Kane, 21, a smoker from Albany, applauded the change. A few years ago, she escaped a house fire that started when someone left a cigarette burning.
``They're good because if you leave a cigarette burning or you fall asleep, you don't have to worry about the mattress going up in flames,'' she said.
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06-28-2004, 01:30 PM #1
Does this last line scare anyone but me?"This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?
06-28-2004, 01:48 PM #2
Read my signature below. It is all that needs to be said...Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.
06-28-2004, 02:18 PM #3
- Join Date
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Their smokes will self-extinguish if not puffed on regularly
So I guess since they will have to 'smoke' faster, their breaks will be shorter? I wonder if they will get dizzy because of the faster inhalation rate?
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06-28-2004, 02:42 PM #4
- Join Date
- Feb 2002
- Cypress, TX
The other question would be: what do they mean by "regularly"? Puff every 5 seconds? 10? 15? 20? So it stays hot and can light stuff off for only that long instead of for a whole minute. Ahh, I see the improvement.
06-28-2004, 03:26 PM #5
Re: Does this last line scare anyone but me?Originally posted by Bones42
But manufacturers warn that though the new cigarettes go out on their own, they're not fireproof and careless handling could still lead to fires. ..... The lower-ignition paper does nothing to curtail the toxicity of cigarettes or reduce the health effects of smoking. About 900 Americans die each year and another 2,500 are hurt by fires started by cigarettes left unattended.
06-28-2004, 03:34 PM #6
Here's some more info on this cigarette law:
Excerpts from: New Worry for Cigarette Makers: New York Fire-Safety Law
By VANESSA O'CONNELL The Wall Street Journal [06/23/04]
New Yorkers already aren't permitted to smoke in their offices, in bars and restaurants and in public buildings. Starting next week they'll face a new restriction: a cigarette that goes out if it lingers too long in an ashtray.
A landmark New York state law, which goes into effect Monday, compels major tobacco companies to replace their cigarettes with new "fire safe" versions designed to extinguish themselves more quickly than conventional cigarettes. Most will be made with a new type of wrapper that uses evenly spaced rings of ultra-thin paper -- layered into the cigarettes' regular paper -- that serve as speed bumps to put cigarettes out when they aren't being puffed.
The legislation, aimed at cutting the number of deaths and injuries from smoking-related fires, is raising troubling questions for tobacco companies.
Logistically, it's been a multiyear undertaking, with tobacco companies reconfiguring their manufacturing lines to add the new wrapper to all cigarettes sold at licensed retailers in the state. Beyond that, cigarette companies could become more vulnerable to cigarette-fire lawsuits filed in other states, legal experts say. Plus, they may face a legislative nightmare as other states pass different fire-safety laws. And if customers don't like these cigarettes, they can easily buy their smokes in neighboring states such as New Jersey and Connecticut, taking business away from New York retailers.
The state law, passed four years ago, requires each of the estimated 1,300 cigarette brand labels sold in New York to undergo a test of its ability to extinguish itself. The test involves placing 40 lighted cigarettes from every label on laboratory filter paper to see if they self-extinguish when left unattended. (The filter paper is intended to serve as a substitute for furniture fabric.)
The New York standard is tough: It requires tobacco companies to certify that their cigarettes die out 75% of the time in the test. The test must be conducted again at least every three years to recertify the cigarettes. The fine is $10,000 for each instance in which a manufacturer falsely certifies that its cigarettes meet the standard. Wholesalers and retailers are subject to fines for selling cigarettes that don't comply with the law.
Some legal experts note that having two distinct classes of cigarettes could expose their makers to a huge legal risk. With self-extinguishing cigarettes required only in New York, anti-tobacco lawyers may find it easier to argue in court that manufacturers know how to make a safer cigarette -- something the companies had largely denied until recently.
But tobacco companies do worry that New York's example will trigger a rash of other states to enact their own cigarette-fire laws, each different from the other. Legislatures in Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Wisconsin, among other states, have recently considered such standards.
Sensing danger ahead, Philip Morris and Loews Corp.'s Lorillard Tobacco Co., among others, want members of Congress to enact a national standard that would trump state laws. A federal cigarette fire-safety proposal is pending in Congress but tobacco companies don't support it because it wouldn't replace state laws like New York's.
06-28-2004, 03:48 PM #7
Here's a link to the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control's page on the new Cigarette Laws. All the stuff concerning the cigarette laws (how the new cigarettes work, all the legislation, studies conducted, etc.) are under the 2003 headline even if they were published in 2004. I haven't had a chance to read all the stuff yet so I can't give a summery on all of it right now. I'll try to later on.
Last edited by 0ptical42; 06-28-2004 at 03:54 PM.
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