Jun. 16 2000
Washington, DC — The New York State Legislature and Gov. George Pataki have set a standard for the rest of the nation to follow by agreeing on a bill to establish fire-safety standards for cigarettes. Cigarettes are currently the leading cause of fire-related death and injury in New York, and children are often the innocent victims of tobacco-caused fires. After vetoing the previous bill approved by the Legislature, Governor Pataki this time has worked with the Legislature to do the right thing and improve public safety in New York.
Scientists, including many who work for Big Tobacco, have known for years that it is technically feasible to produce a cigarette which is far less likely to burn potentially combustible items like furniture or bedding. The tobacco industry, without any laws or agencies to compel them, has dragged its feet about producing safer cigarettes. Other states and the United States Congress should follow the New York Legislature's lead in challenging the industry to do the right thing.
The principal victims of tobacco-caused fires are children, senior citizens and firefighters. Nationally, the societal cost of dealing with fires caused by smoking is estimated at more than $4 billion each year. Compelling the tobacco industry to produce a fire safe cigarette would eliminate much of the devastation.