Dec. 30 2003
Washington, DC — It is time for the state of New York to end the delays and adopt strong regulations that will reduce the risk of cigarette-caused fires and save lives. Further delays will mean more lives lost to cigarette-caused fires.
We urge Governor George Pataki and the New York Department of State to meet the December 31 deadline for issuing regulations establishing the nation’s first fire safety standards for cigarettes. Under a 2000 law that made New York the first and only state to require fire safety standards for cigarettes, the regulations were supposed to have been adopted by Jan. 1, 2003, and implemented by July 1, 2003. But implementation of this life-saving law has been delayed by at least a year because the tobacco industry has repeatedly tried to obstruct and weaken strong regulations despite the fact that internal industry documents show the industry for decades has known how to manufacture a cigarette that reduces the risk of fires.
It is outrageous that fire safety standards currently exist for many consumer products, but not for cigarettes, which are the leading cause of fire death in the United States. Each year, cigarette-caused fires result in about 1,000 deaths, 3,000 serious injuries and an estimated $4 billion in property losses and health care expenses nationally. Of these victims, more than 100 are children and non-smokers. From 1997-2001, nearly 200 New Yorkers lost their lives due to cigarette-caused fires. This tragic toll is entirely preventable by adoption of a strong fire safety standard for cigarettes as called for by New York’s Cigarette Fire Safety Act of 2000, sponsored by Assemblymember Pete Grannis (D-Manhattan). It’s time to stop the delays and start saving lives.