I first noticed “fire safe” cigarettes (FSC) a couple months ago. At first I thought I’d bought a contaminated pack. In a sense, that’s true — FSCs have bands of ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) spaced along the cigarette to make them go out if not continually inhaled. Although FSCs aren’t required in Mississippi until July 1 this year, they are all you can get now because the manufacturers essentially had quit selling FSCs by January 1.
Safer (in a fire-prevention sense) cigarettes have been the goal of activists and researchers since the late 1920s. The Coalition for Fire Safe Cigarettes has been demanding state-by-state legislation (since Congress has yet to make any laws in that regard). Within the last five years, all but one state has already passed laws requiring that only FSCs be sold in-state.
Alex Johnson of MSNBC reported last January that
There are no reliable statistical data demonstrating that fire-safe cigarette laws actually reduce fires. […] And injuries and deaths due to fires began declining for several years before such laws came on the scene, making researchers reluctant to declare any cause-and-effect relationship.
Research saying they are effective merely notes that the FSCs go out rather than burning down to the filter — which is fine, but apparently they never tried just dropping a burning cigarette of any kind on flammable material. Which may be one reason that FSC is more accurately said to stand for “Fire Standards Compliant”.
Johnson and others report numerous complaints of smokers, such as: smoking more due to having to drag on the cigarettes to keep them lit; various effects such as more coughing, irritated eyes, coppery taste; “flare-ups” and dropping embers when they have to be relit. I’ve only heard complaints about them from smokers I know, but a few smokers are reported to have said they like them because they can be relit later if they go out in the ashtray. Store owners may be another group that approves of them: one is quoted as saying “We’ll sell more lighters.”
Saulius Mikalonis, an environmental attorney posting at Green Blawg, has this to say in “Fire-Safe Cigarettes – Poisoning Smokers to Save Them?“:
However, the material used to retard cigarette burning contain hazardous chemicals, which in turn result in greater amounts of hazardous materials being ingested by smokers through their lungs.
Note that he snarkily heads his post with a quote from Peter Arnett — “So you had to destroy the village in order to save it?” — that “was a response to an army officer after he explained why the army had destroyed a Vietnamese village during the Vietnam War.”
David Jaromnak has opened a petition (“Repeal Fire Safe Cigarette Laws“) sponsored by Citizens Against Fire Safe Cigarettes (CAFSC):
The Citizens Against Fire Safe Cigarettes appeal to State/Commonwealth governments to review the facts and repeal the FSC laws. Failure to do so will result in increased health costs and deaths. If not repealed, the CAFSC will seek legal recourse through the judicial system and State Superior Courts. If necessary, the appeal will be made to the Supreme Court of the United States.
image: Zwei zigaretten.jpg, Wikipedia