August 5, 2009 - In Kansas, fire-safe cigarettes have been the law since July 1, 2009. In Missouri, the most recent state to adopt the standard, the law (signed into law July 10, 2009) takes effect in September 1, 2010. Every state but Wyoming has passed laws that mandate fire-safe cigarettes. Fire-safe cigarettes can be identified by the small initials “FSC” on the packs. (Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes)
Philip Morris plans to phase out conventional cigarettes by the first half of next year. R.J. Reynolds cigarettes could all be fire-safe by the end of this year. (Philip Morris USA may have all fire-safe cigarettes by 1st half of 2010..)
But as fire-safe cigarettes have spread nationwide, complaints from smokers have followed. An online petition calling for the repeal of fire-safe cigarette laws now has more than 7,000 signatures.
Smokers from across the country fill Internet sites with complaints about headaches, coughing fits, nausea and other maladies they attribute to the new cigarettes. They point to a 2005 study from the Harvard School of Public Health that found the smoke from fire-safe cigarettes contained on average 11 percent more carbon monoxide and 14 percent more naphthalene — the ingredient in mothballs — than conventional cigarettes. The Harvard researchers consider the differences negligible, however.
Discontented smokers also claim the new cigarettes are laced with more chemical additives, most notably ethylene vinyl acetate, an adhesive used to glue cigarettes together.
“They’re horrible. I’ve been waking up with headaches, body aches, coughing like I’m hacking up a lung,” said Jamie Bartlett, 21, of Grandview, MO. “I just thought I was getting sick until someone pointed (the fire-safe cigarettes) out to me.”
David Sutton, a spokesman for Philip Morris USA: The new cigarettes have no additional ethylene vinyl acetate or other chemicals. “We don’t add any other ingredients not found in traditional cigarette manufacturing,” Sutton said. “They’re just like traditional cigarettes. I’ve smoked both types of Marlboro Lights product, and they taste the same to me.”
The only difference is in the design of the cigarette paper. Fire-safe cigarettes have two or three rings of thicker paper spaced out along the length of the tube. The rings make the cigarette paper less porous, so less oxygen reaches the burning tobacco. Unless a smoker takes a drag when the cigarette reaches one of the paper rings, it’s likely to go out.
It may take years before we see the full effect of the new cigarettes on fire deaths.
With people smoking less, tobacco-related fire deaths already had dropped dramatically before fire-safe cigarettes were introduced. In 1980, about 1,980 deaths occurred in fires started by lighted tobacco products. By 2005, there were only about 800. New York in 2004 became the first state to switch to fire-safe cigarettes. During a 12-month period in 2002 to 2003, 38 cigarette-related fire deaths were reported in New York. During the same period in 2006-2007, there were 24 deaths.
Reference: Fire-safe cigarettes have smokers doing a slow burn by ALAN BAVLEY, The Kansas City Star, 8/4/2009.
Some related news briefs: Philip Morris USA may have all fire-safe cigarettes by 1st half of 2010..; Arizona only fire-safe cigarettes sold starting August 1, 2009..; Indiana - fire-safe cigarettes - July 1, 2009..; Lives could be lost - Philip Morris refuses to set date to convert to fire-safe cigarettes..; http://snus-news.blogspot.com/2009/02/australia-wants-to-move-up-date-to-have.html; Australia - Victoria fires - arson thrown cigarette butt..; U.S.A. Fire-Safe Cigarettes for All 50 States - NOW..; USA States Self-extinguishing Cigarettes Becoming the Norm..; Dummies - Citizens Against Fire Safe Cigarettes..; Cigarettes “fire safe” in Minnesota as of December 1, 2008..; Fire - Safe Cigarettes for all 50 states - NOW.. and Switzerland could join EU requiring sale of only self-extinguishing cigarettes..