KCUR News
4:13 pm
Wed December 30, 2009

Law Aims To Snuff Fire Death Rate

Kansas City, Mo. – Some smokers will be lighting (and relighting) a new kind of cigarette as fresh fire safety laws go on the books Friday in Missouri and 11 other states.

Fire-safe standards require the cigarettes burn out 75 percent of the time when not being puffed. Thin bands of paper on the white part of the cigarette act like a speed bump, slowing the burn rate. Kansas City Battalion Fire Chief Joe Vitale often sees people who die in smoking related fires--"It leads to death and it leads to property loss. So anything that can reduce those numbers is going to be a positive."

Backers of the new laws claim as many as 700 people die in cigarette-fueled fires every year.Three thousand others are injured, many of them among non smokers. Some smokers say the new cigarettes cause headaches and nausea.

Most tobacco companies have supported the move to fire-safe cigarettes. The maker of Marlboro, Chesterfield, L&M and Virginia Slims plans to sell nothing but fire-safe cigarettes by February 2nd, regardless of state laws. States with these new laws going on the books this week are Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

Most states allow conventional cigarettes be sold until existing stocks are used.