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'The Canadian tobacco industry has been opposing this initiative,' commented Francois Damphouse. It claims that RIP cigarettes might be more toxic for smokers. It also argues that smokers find these cigarettes less acceptable. However, the industry's own confidential research documents show otherwise.
   --Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada & Non-Smoker's Rights Association press release, March 31, 2004

Each year, cigarette ignited fires needlessly cause hundreds of deaths. We can no longer tolerate losing one more innocent child or putting one more firefighter at risk in a fire that could have been prevented.   

--Rep. Peter King (R-NY)







April 5,  2004




Canada's Parliament  Passes 
Fire-Safe Cigarette Legislation

Following the lead of New York state, the Canadian Parliament passed legislation that will reduce the number of cigarette-caused fires in Canada. Bill C-260, an Act to amend the Hazardous Products Act (fire-safe cigarettes), will make it mandatory for all tobacco manufacturers to sell reduced ignition propensity (RIP) cigarettes by the end of this year. 

As in the United States, cigarette-caused fires are the leading cause of fire-related deaths in Canada. Canada's Non-Smokers' Rights Association and Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada report that, "according to data from the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs, 356 people were killed and a further 1,615 were injured in such fires between 1995 and 1999 (the latest data available). These fires have also caused more than $200 million worth of property damage."  

"For years, the tobacco industry has tried to blame its customers for these fires, without looking at its own responsibility to make a safer product,"
said Toronto lawyer, Douglas Lennox. "Cigarette fires kill smokers and non-smokers alike, including children, the elderly, firefighters and anyone
caught in the path of such a blaze" (
-Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada & Non-Smoker's Rights Association press release, March 31, 2004).

Canada has passed powerful legislation that will make use of the same regulations and testing protocols for cigarettes with reduced ignition propensity as the state of New York.  All cigarettes sold in New York will have to comply to a specific RIP standard as of June 30, 2004.

In August 2003, in our update on the fire-safe cigarette we wrote, "First New York, Then the Nation." In 2000 New York State passed the nation’s first law requiring the establishment of a fire safety standard for cigarettes sold in the state that was due to take effect July 1, 2003 (those regulations as noted above are set to go into effect by June 30, 2004). Little did we know then that New York would lead to Canada's national legislation. There is continued progress, however, being made in the U.S.  Representative Edward Markey (D-MA) and Congressman Peter King (R-NY) have just introduced fire-safe cigarette legislation (The Cigarette Fire Safety Act of 2004). This bipartisan legislation will set a reasonable ignition standard for cigarettes and help to prevent an estimated 800 deaths, 2,200 injuries, and nearly $560 million dollars in damages caused by cigarette ignited fires every year.  The bill has 38 sponsors. The legislation has been endorsed by the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), the Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI), National Association of State Fire Marshals, The National Volunteer Fire Council, the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association,  the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the Trauma Foundation.

Public health advocates in the United States should be grateful for Canada's groundbreaking legislation. The mandate for fire-safe cigarettes just over the border cannot help but further force the tobacco industry to make all of the cigarettes available in the United States fire-safe as well.  

Other Resources
Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada

Non-Smokers Rights Association

Trauma Foundation Resources



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