Dec. 31 2003
Washington, DC — The state of New York today has taken historic action to address the entirely preventable tragedy of cigarette-caused fires by adopting the nation’s first fire safety standard for cigarettes. It would be grossly irresponsible for cigarette companies not to adopt this life-saving standard for all cigarettes sold in the United States and indeed worldwide. Everyone deserves the same level of protection from cigarette-caused fires that New Yorkers will receive when the new standard takes effect on June 28, 2004.
Internal cigarette company documents show that the cigarette companies have known for decades how to manufacture a cigarette that reduces the risk of fires when left unattended and that is also acceptable to consumers. Their failure to voluntarily apply this technology to the vast majority of cigarettes now on the market has resulted in the loss of thousands of lives, needless suffering and millions of dollars in property damage. If they are the responsible corporations that they claim to be, the cigarette companies should commit to meeting New York’s fire safety standard by its effective date of June 28, 2004, and to applying this standard to all cigarettes they manufacture.
Cigarettes are the leading cause of fire death in the United States, accounting for an estimated 30 percent of all fire deaths. 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.
The regulation issued today implements a 2000 New York law, the Cigarette Fire Safety Act of 2000, sponsored by Assemblyman Pete Grannis and Senator Frank Padavan. We applaud Assemblyman Grannis and Senator Padavan for their leadership on this issue and the New York Department of State for issuing the strong regulation today.
(A New York Department of State press release on the new rule can be found at http://www.dos.state.ny.us/pres/pr2003/12_31.htm. The rule itself can be found at http://www.dos.state.ny.us/fire/cigaretterule.htm.)