Fire-Safe Cigarette Law Has New Life

Since 2001, 29 Oregonians have died in cigarette-related fires and 129 have been injured.  Cigarettes were a factor in 1,500 residential fires, 70 forest fires, and cost $28 million in property damage.  New York State has mandated the use of "fire-safe" cigarettes that extinguish themselves in five minutes--a quarter the time of a regular cigarette.  This has resulted in a 25-50% reduction in fatalities in New York, according to early research there.  In Oregon, the Democratic-controlled Senate voted 20-8 to adopt fire-safe cigarettes.  Why was the law never passed

[T]he GOP-controlled House snuffed it out, never allowing a hearing. With Republican-leaning lobbies such as big tobacco, the grocery industry and convenience-store chains opposed, it never had a chance -- even in a state prone to costly forest fires.

It should have been a "no-brainer," Whelan said. "It really became emblematic of the partisanship and the special interests."

But now, with control of the House back in Democratic hands, the bill has new life:

With the 2007 flip in House control to Democrats, many bills squelched in past sessions are back on the table, including a fire-safe cigarette bill, House Bill 2163 (.pdf).

Whelan and two cohorts who led the volunteer effort in 2005 have the active support of the State Fire Marshal's office and others.

In 2005, only New York required fire-safe cigarettes. Since then California, four other states and Canada have followed New York's lead.

Even Philip Morris is working with Oregon State Fire Marshal Nancy Orr to secure language in a bill that the tobacco giant can support.

State Rep. Bob Jenson, R-Pendleton, is eager to support the bill when it comes up for a House vote.


  • JJ Ark (unverified)

    Now, THIS is an example of an excellent law.

    There is a clear problem, and a clear solution. This will cost the tobacco companies less (its an additive that keeps smokes burning--not adding this will cost them less in material).

    All in all a win/win for everyone. Except that the tobacco lobbies will claim it to be a hardship (they don't like messing with their process.) And they will kill it as they ahve legislators in their pocket, but it is a good law.

  • Anon (unverified)

    I agree with the above comments, except it's the paper that they wrap the tobacco with that's at issue. The cigarette companies don't add anything to keep the tobacco burning; it smolders naturally. The fire-safe cigarettes have oh-so-slightly thicker paper around it.

  • Tina (unverified)

    Hey man, get a clue and your facts straight! These cigarettes are MORE of a fire hazard by far. The ashes drop before you can flick them because they are heavier! The ash that drops is HOT, unlike the other, it stays hotter longer. I've seen it! Plus that paper was declared much worse for your lungs along, long time ago! It gives respiratory infections, screws up your mouth and throut. When they go out, which is 1/3 of the way down, whether you are puffing it or not, and when you re-light it the ashes fall from it like sparklers. They burn down one side (run) and that causes the tobacco and the un-burned side of the paper to fall, again, HOT!!!!! I guarentee that these will cause much more problems than not! I don't care what anyone says! Someone is making big money off this and that is the only motive behind this law!

  • Ralph (unverified)

    Tina is exactly correct. I'm a smoker in California and my cigarettes are dropping hot ashes all over the house these days. These are definitely NOT more safe! I see a lawsuit coming...

  • Jeremy (unverified)

    Yeah I have to keep re-lighting my cigarettes on my trips to and from work, and since the paper doesn't burn right, you end up with a large piece of cigarette paper that flies off (possibly in your eye) lit. i totally disagree with this whole thing, my cigarettes taste worse, and they're getting to be a nuisance. i really wish i could get the old ones back.... safe or not... these are way more unsafe.

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