Officials Hope Fire Safe Cigarettes Will Save Lives

October 15, 2007

Weatherford Democrat


Roadside fires wreak havok along Interstates and county roads, ruining farm land and residential dwelllings and causing injuries, while wasting tax dollars to extinguish them.

Children are among the highest statistics of those who die from home fires caused by cigarrettes.

Statistics show a high percentage of fatalities are caused by smokers who leave cigarettes unattended and burning or fall asleep while smoking.

The state recently took a step in making Texans less likely to cause a fire by an improperly discarded cigarette.

Governor Rick Perry signed House Bill 2935 into effect recently to help curb the danger.

The Bill, written by Representative Phil King and his staff, will make “safe cigarettes” mandatory within a little more than two years.

As of Jan. 1, 2010, any cigarette brought into Texas to sell or be sold within its borders must be a “fire-safe” type.

The “non-fire-safe” cigarette will be available to all retailers by Jan. 1, 2009.

After that date, and when current cigarrette inventory has been depleted, the inventory must be replaced by the “fire-safe” type, giving Texas merchants just over a year to prepare for the new stock.

Perry relayed his support for the new law during the signing of the bill, and said it is expected to save lives and property.

King (R-Weatherford) along with Senator Royce West (D-Dallas) co-sponsored the bill, and demonstrated strong bipartisan support which the bill drew.

The bill also drew support across the state, and was sponsored by the Texas Fire Marshal’s Association, the State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Texas State Fireman’s and Fire Marshal’s Association.

The National Fire Protection Association deemed the bill an essential tool to the nation’s fire prevention and safety network.

“The State of Texas is vitally important to the national agenda of getting ‘fire-safe’ cigarette laws in every state in the Union,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA Vice President of Communications.

According to the tobacco industry, Carli also said Texas is the state to determine the success of the Fire Safe Cigarette Coalition’s effort to make the bill a national priority.

Weatherford Fire Marshal Kurt Harris, also the president of the Texas Fire Marshal’s Association said cigarettes and smoking materials continue to be the leading cause of fires in residences in the United States.

Harris said between 700 and 900 die annually because of fires caused by cigarrettes. A large percentage of those fatalities are children.

Harris stressed the new cigarrette is not completely safe, but is “safer” than the ones currently sold on the market.

“We, in the fire protection arena, are ecstatic about this bill and the life and property it will save,” Harris said.

Harris thanked King and his Legislative Aid, Tim Kuhl, for their “diligent” work in writing the bill and West for helping get the bill passed with almost no opposition.

Fire safe cigarettes are designed to self-extinguish if the smoker ceases to continue to inhale the cigarette. The new version is expected to be less likely to start a fire on clothing, bedding or other combustibles when ashes are dropped or left unattended.

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