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NY Adopts Cigarette Fire Safety Standard

New York has become the first state to adopt a measure designed to reduce the risk of fires caused by cigarettes.

The fire safety standard for cigarettes will require all cigarettes sold in New York to be low-ignition strength, making them less likely to cause fires if left unattended. The cigarette fire safety standard becomes effective June 28, 2004.

"By establishing a strict fire safety standard for cigarettes, New York State is taking aim at a significant cause of house fires and fire casualties - cigarettes," said Secretary of State Randy A. Daniels. "An unattended cigarette is like a fuse that can quickly ignite bedding, upholstery or other home furnishings. We have seen too many tragedies caused by the careless use of cigarettes, and this standard is designed to reduce that risk."

Daniels said the technology to manufacture low-ignition strength cigarettes is available.

The Department of State's (DOS) Office of Fire Prevention and Control was charged with developing a cigarette fire safety standard. After extensive research and testing, DOS issued a proposed regulation requiring that, in controlled testing, at least 75 percent of cigarettes of a certain brand self-extinguish before burning the full length of their tobacco columns.

Only those brands that meet the state's performance standard will be certified and permitted to be sold in New York. The tests are conducted according to American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards.

The penalties for violating the statute are as follows:

  • Manufacturers who falsify cigarette certifications will receive up to $10,000 in fines for each false certification;
  • Wholesalers, agents and others who sell cigarettes wholesale that are not certified will receive up to $10,000 in fines per sale;
  • Retailers who sell cigarettes that are not certified will receive a penalty of up to $500 per sale if the number of cigarettes does not exceed 1,000; a penalty of up to $1,000 per sale if the number of cigarettes exceeds 1,000.
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