The Trauma Foundation's campaign to regulate the fire safety of cigarettes began in 1979. Five years later, the Trauma Foundation was instrumental in the passage of the Cigarette Safety Act (PL 98-567 in 1984). The Act mandated the formation of a Technical Study Group (TSG) to find out whether it was feasible to make a fire safe cigarette--a cigarette that is significantly less likely to ignite furniture and mattresses. In 1987, the TSG delivered their findings to the U.S. Congress: a fire safe cigarette was technically and economically feasible. The Trauma Foundation was also instrumental in the passage of the next bill: on August 10, 1990, the Fire Safe Cigarette Act (PL 101-352), which mandated the development of a fire safe test method for cigarettes, was signed by then-President Bush. Andrew McGuire served on the Technical Advisory Group (created in 1990) which, along with the Consumer Product Safety Commission, provided Congress with a fire safety test method for cigarettes.
The next logical step was for a federal bill to be introduced and passed mandating a fire safe cigarette using the Technical Advisory Group fire safety test method for cigarettes. However, the chances of such a bill being introduced or passed was slim since U.S. House Representative Thomas Bliley (in whose district in Virginia Philip Morris has a manufacturing plant) chaired the committee by which the fire safe cigarette bill would have to be approved.
US Representative Joseph Moakley worked for 20 years to promote this legislation after consituents in his district were killed in a deadly fire. A bill in his name the Joseph Moakley Memorial Fire-Safe Cigarette Act, was introduced in Congress on April 25, 2002 by US Representative Edward Markley. Congress hears bill mandating self-extinguishing cigarette. For more information: More.
The other viable approach for creating a fire safe cigarette standard for cigarettes is to push for state legislation. The Trauma Foundation's Model Fire Safe Cigarette Bill was used as the model for legislation in Oregon and New York.
The fire safe cigarette bill in Oregon is H.B. 2678, introduced by Representative Jo Ann Bowman in 1997.
For information about the Minnesota fire retardant standards for cigarettes, click here (Senate - 98 and House 175).
Legislation was introduced in Vermont in 1998 by Representative Seibert concerning fire safety and cigarettes: 2753 Fire Safety and Cigarettes
In Massachusetts legislation has been proposed for a fire safe cigarette bill with Senate Bill 1194 It has passed out of the Senate and is stuck in the House Ways and Means Committee. For more information about fire safe cigarettes see Where there's smoking, there's fire (from MASSPIRG).
The New York fire safe cigarette legislation became law on August 16, 2000 and will take effect January 1, 2003. What follows is the language for that bill (Section 156-c of the New York Executive Law):
§ 156-c. Fire safety standards for cigarettes. 1. a. When used in this
section, the word "cigarette" shall mean any roll for smoking made
wholly or in part of tobacco or of any other substance, irrespective of
size or shape and whether or not such tobacco or substance is flavored,
adulterated or mixed with any other ingredient, the wrapper or cover of
which is made of paper or any other substance or material except
b. When used in this section, the word "sell" shall mean to sell, or to offer or agree to do the same.
2. a. Within two years after this section takes effect, the office of fire prevention and control shall promulgate fire safety standards for cigarettes sold or offered for sale in this state. Such standards shall take effect as provided in subdivision four of this section and shall insure either:
(1) That such cigarettes, if ignited, will stop burning within a time period specified by the standards if the cigarettes are not smoked during that period; or
(2) That such cigarettes meet performance standards prescribed by the office of fire prevention and control to limit the risk that such cigarettes will ignite upholstered furniture, mattresses or other household furnishings.
b. In promulgating fire safety standards for cigarettes pursuant to this section, the office of fire prevention and control, in consultation with the department of health, shall consider whether cigarettes manufactured in accordance with such standards may reasonably result in increased health risks to consumers.
c. The office of fire prevention and control shall be responsible for administering the provisions of this section.
d. The office of fire prevention and control shall report to the governor and the legislature no later than eighteen months after this section takes effect on the status of its work in promulgating the fire safety standards required by this subdivision.
3. On and after the date the fire safety standards take effect in accordance with subdivision four of this section, no cigarettes shall be sold or offered for sale in this state unless the manufacturer thereof has certified in writing to the office of fire prevention and control and the attorney general that such cigarettes meet the performance standards prescribed by the office of fire prevention and control pursuant to subdivision two of this section. Copies of such written certifications shall be provided by the certifying manufacturer to all wholesale dealers, as defined in subdivision eight of section four hundred seventy of the tax law, and all agents, as defined in subdivision eleven of section four hundred seventy of the tax law. The office of fire prevention and control shall prescribe procedures by which retail dealers are notified of which cigarettes have been certified by manufacturers as meeting the performance standards prescribed by the office of fire prevention and control.
4. The fire safety standards required pursuant to subdivision two of this section shall take effect on such date as the office of fire prevention and control shall specify in promulgating such standards and such date shall be the earliest practicable date by which manufacturers of cigarettes can comply with such standards; provided, however, that such date shall not be later than one hundred eighty days after such standards are promulgated. On and after such date, no person or entity shall sell in this state cigarettes that have not been certified by the manufacturer in accordance with subdivision three of this section; provided, however, that nothing in this subdivision shall be construed to prohibit any person or entity from selling cigarettes that have not been certified by the manufacturer in accordance with subdivision three of this section if such cigarettes are or will be stamped for sale in another state or are packaged for sale outside the United States.
5. a. Any wholesale dealer, as defined in subdivision eight of section four hundred seventy of the tax law, or any agent, as defined in subdivision eleven of section four hundred seventy of the tax law, or any other person or entity who knowingly sells cigarettes wholesale in violation of subdivision four of this section shall be subject to a civil penalty not to exceed ten thousand dollars per each such sale of such cigarettes. Any retail dealer, as defined in subdivision nine of section four hundred seventy of the tax law, who knowingly sells cigarettes in violation of subdivision four of this section shall be subject to the following: (i) a civil penalty not to exceed five hundred dollars per each such sale or offer for sale of such cigarettes, provided that the total number of cigarettes sold or offered for sale in such sale does not exceed one thousand cigarettes; (ii) a civil penalty not to exceed one thousand dollars per each such sale or offer for sale of such cigarettes, provided that the total number of cigarettes sold or offered for sale in such sale exceeds one thousand cigarettes.
b. In addition to any penalty prescribed by law, any corporation, partnership, sole proprietor, limited partnership or association engaged in the manufacture of cigarettes that knowingly makes a false certification pursuant to subdivision three of this section shall be subject to a civil penalty not to exceed ten thousand dollars for each such false certification.
c. There is hereby established in the custody of the state comptroller a special fund to be known as the "Cigarette Fire Safety Act Fund". Such fund shall consist of all moneys recovered by the attorney general from the assessment of civil penalties authorized by this subdivision. Such monies shall be deposited to the credit of the fund and shall, in addition to any other moneys made available for such purpose, be available to the office of fire prevention and control for the purpose of fire safety and prevention programs. All payments from the cigarette fire safety act fund shall be made on the audit and warrant of the state comptroller on vouchers certified and submitted by the state fire administrator.
6. To enforce the provisions of this section, the attorney general may bring an action on behalf of the people of the state of New York to enjoin acts in violation of this section and to recover civil penalties authorized under subdivision five of this section.
What You Can Do
If you are interested in information about promoting a similar fire safe cigarette policy, contact Andrew McGuire at 415-821-8209.