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New cigarettes a slow, safer burn

June 24, 2009 | 08:29 AM

Citing safety as the reason for the legislation, a new Indiana law taking effect July 1 will require all cigarettes sold in Indiana to burn out more quickly when left unattended in an effort to reduce the number of smoking-related fires.

Cigarettes are the No. 1 cause of fatal residential fires in the country, killing approximately 800 people annually. One-quarter of victims of smoking-material fire fatalities are not the smokers whose cigarettes started the fire; 34 percent are children of the smokers, 25 percent are neighbors or friends, 14 percent are spouses or partners and 13 percent are parents.

Last year, there were 138 smoking-related fires in Indiana, leading to four deaths, 11 injuries and $3.4 million in property damage, according to the National Fire Incident Reporting System. In 2005, NFIRS showed that 124 reported smoking-related fires occurred. Those fires caused two civilian deaths, 16 civilian injuries and five firefighter injuries with property loss at almost $1.5 million.

The new design of cigarettes contains the same amount of tobacco as before but force a smoker to inhale to get the flame through two strips of paper incorporated into the cigarette. The two (or sometimes three) thin bands of less-porous paper act as "speed bumps" to slow down a burning cigarette. If a fire-safe cigarette is left unattended, the burning tobacco will reach one of these speed bumps and self-extinguish. The change in design isn't expected to change cigarette prices. The law doesn't apply to cigarettes that consumers roll themselves.

"The cigarettes are made from the same blend of tobacco as regular cigarettes," Jim Greeson, Indiana state fire marshal and Indiana Department of Homeland Security Division of Fire and Building Safety director, said. "The only difference to the consumer is they need to puff it more often or relight it."

Indiana's law was signed in March 2008. Forty-eight states either have similar laws in place or will have new regulations in effect by August 2010.

To know which cigarettes are fire safe, check the UPC code for either the marking "FSC" (most common); a heavy black line above the UPC; a diamond symbol; or the letters FS, LIP or RIP.

  1. print email
    fsc's safe?
    June 24, 2009 | 10:00 AM

    I find fsc's to be more dangerous than non-fsc's. The paper doesn't burn consistently so you're having to constantly watch to make sure burning pieces of it are not falling about or on you. The cigarettes go out completely if sat in an ashtray for even a minimal amount of time, making it necessary for the smoker to relight it. Relighting the cigarette causes it to flame and taste even worse than a fsc does on the first light. As Jim Greeson states in the article, "they need to puff it more". Well, what's that going to lead to? More cigarettes smoked and more inhaling than normal. That line alone makes it sound like fsc's were conspired so smokers would have to buy more cigarettes and make them more likely to get sick from excessive inhaling. I know it's a horrible habit and the non-smokers are saying, "blah blah blah, wah wah wah" right about now. But, for the time being, smoking is my vice. I guess I need to find one that won't endanger everyone (smoker or non) with the falling pieces of flaming paper I now possess.

    pobody's nerfect
  2. print email
    Electronic Cigarette NO CHANCE OF FIRE
    June 24, 2009 | 12:12 PM

    The answer is Torch electronic cigarettes. No tobacco and nothing is ignited. NO CHANCE OF FIRE. The smoker is satisfied with the nicotine that they desire. Looks, feels and tastes like a tobacco cig.
    Cut the cancer and fire risks.

  3. print email
    June 25, 2009 | 03:21 PM

    Those electronic cigarettes are crazy! I've never seen or heard of such! I'm not a smoker so it doesn't really matter to me, but it is definitely neat!

  4. print email
    The real point
    June 30, 2009 | 06:03 PM

    Nobody's perfect points out the real reason for this "regulation," which is to make smoking less pleasant. Of the fatal "tobacco house fires," how many of those smokers were drunk? How many of those fires are attributed to tobacco simply because the fire marshal noticed the owner was a smoker and couldn't find any other reason? What's the "risk" when compared to the millions of smokers who don't set their houses on fire - .00001 percent, probably. Lawmakers during prohibition were at least more honest about what they were doing.

    If it saves 1 life let's ban automobiles!
  5. print email
    Legislators ought to get their act together
    July 02, 2009 | 12:31 AM

    They make these new cigarettes for safety reasons. When are legislators going to pass laws about alcohol? Since many of them drink alcohol, it is not likely legislation will appear to protect people from those that abuse alcohol. How many fires are caused from people drinking too much? How many people are abused physically and/or emotionally because of people drinking? How many car accidents are caused by too much alcohol? How many felonies have been committed by those who have abused alcohol? How many accidents have happened on work sites because of alcohol? People know it is unhealthy to smoke. People know that it can be very dangerous to drink. The United States is really pulling off a lot of crap on the American people. I think this is underhanded and awful. Don't the legislators have more to do these days with the state the economy is in? Why not start working on some issues that really will help a lot of people and not just target smokers?

  6. print email
    FSC cigarettes
    July 02, 2009 | 09:25 AM

    Sherry, (above), has a good point. I can't believe how bad these new FSC cigarettes are, or that i am offered to smoke these because 800 people died last year in smoking related fires. No, there is something more political going on here.
    For a good smoke you can still roll or stuff your own for much less and with a much wider choice of tobaccos. And they burn even and cool. Check with your local tobacconist for details, but let me recommend the "top-o-matic" cigarette machine for starters.

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