May. 25 2000
Washington, DC — The CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS condemns New York Governor George Pataki's veto of a bill to set fire safety standards for cigarettes. The Cigarette Fire Safety Act was passed unanimously by both houses of the New York Legislature. The only opposition to the bill came from the tobacco industry.
By bowing to Big Tobacco, Governor Pataki has blocked landmark legislation that had the potential to save thousands of lives and millions of dollars in New York. The Governor's action cannot be justified on public health or any other legitimate grounds. Cigarettes are currently the leading cause of death and injury from residential fires in New York State, and children are often the innocent victims of smoking-caused fires. New York has missed an opportunity to become the first state in the nation to face the problem head-on and create a mechanism to deal with it.
The CAMPAIGN urges the New York Legislature to override the Governor's veto. It is shameful that the Legislature's good work in challenging the tobacco industry to do the right thing should be undone by irrelevant political considerations.
If the veto stands, then the next time a New York child dies in a tobacco-caused fire, the citizens of New York will have every right to ask Governor Pataki, " Why did this have to happen?" We can't wait to hear his answer.