New State Law: Fire-safe cigarettes

By Melissa Correa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) –  A new state law affects anyone who buys cigarettes, yet most smokers don't know about it. Firefighters however, are very excited about the new requirement: fire safe cigarettes.

The statewide law took effect January 1st. All new inventory is fire-safe, although a majority of the customers aren't aware of the new rule and wouldn't know it unless they saw a small identifier.

"They basically self-extinguish after a period of time, reducing the likelihood of causing a fire," said Chesterfield Fire Marshal Robbie Dawson.

According to Dawson in 2008 the General Assembly approved the change of cigarettes.

"The formal term is reduced-ignition propensity cigarettes," said Dawson.

And this January fire-safe cigarettes, as they're commonly known, hit the shelves. The difference is in the paper. Two extra paper bands wrap around the cigarette. When the fire hits a band, if you're not puffing the fire-safe cigarette will self-extinguish.
"Over the last two years we've had 45 incidents where we've attributed the cause to discarded smoking materials," Dawson said.

Dawson is hoping these safer sticks reduce cigarette-related fires by 75%. But all Sherri Greshaw's seeing is an increase in complaints...

"I've had several people come back and say what's wrong with these cigarettes, they keep going out.  You sold me a bad carton of cigarettes," Greshaw said.

A majority of her customers are clueless when it comes to the new packs.

"Not a whole lot of people like them," she said.

Some people complain of a bad taste. Rodney Hester, says heaven forbid he stops puffing, "I don't like them you have to keep re-lighting your cigarettes."

You know your pack is the new stuff if you see the letters FSC: Fire Standards Compliant.
Chesterfield firefighters say if they save just one life, the cigarette change-up is worth it.

Now that Virginia's on board, there are only a handful of states that don't require fire-safe cigarettes.

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