February 19, 2009 - In the wake of the Black Saturday blazes that have killed 208 people and left 10,000 homeless, the Government hopes to bring forward the March 2010 deadline so safer cigarettes are in use before next summer's bushfire season.
Arson investigators have blamed a lit cigarette, possibly thrown from a passing car or truck, as the probable cause of the West Bendigo fire that claimed two lives and destroyed 50 homes. Consumer Affairs Minister Chris Bowen yesterday announced he had sought advice from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on bringing forward the start date for the new cigarette regulations. He warned the reduced fire-risk cigarettes were not foolproof in preventing fire.
A lobby of 40 anti-smoking organizations is writing to Attorney-General Robert McClelland to demand the cigarettes become mandatory by September. "The recent devastating fires have highlighted the urgency of all sections of society doing their utmost to minimize further risk of fire," says the letter, on behalf of the Protecting Children from Tobacco coalition.
University of Sydney health professor Simon Chapman, who was a member of the World Health Organization's expert advisory panel on tobacco and health for 18 years, said there was no excuse to wait any longer to introduce cigarettes already mandatory in Canada and parts of the US.
Related news briefs: Australia - Victoria fires - arson thrown cigarette butt..; Australia - new regs fire-safe cigarettes by March 2010...
Reference: Self-dousing cigarettes to cut bushfire risk,
Natasha Bita, 2/20/2009; Australia wants to fast-track fire-safe cigarettes by ROD McGUIRK, Sulekha.com, February, 2009.