NY Bill Aids Careless Smokers

July 7, 2008 - 7:02 PM

(CNSNews.com) - In an attempt to make the world safe from products that may be misused, the New York Assembly has passed a bill that would make New York the first state to require tobacco companies to manufacture self-extinguishing cigarettes.

A Senate version of the same bill has more Republican sponsors than ever before, making passage a distinct possibility. A spokeswoman for Gov. George Pataki said he'll "definitely take a look" at the legislation.

Supporters of "fire-safe" cigarettes - including firefighters and anti-smoking groups -- say cigarettes that extinguish themselves would protect people who fall asleep while smoking and people who fail to properly extinguish or dispose of their cigarettes. They'd protect careless people, in other words.

"The cigarette industry has treated this issue much like the smoking issue," said state Democratic Assemblyman Alexander Grannis, the bill's sponsor. "They've known the problem for a long time ... They can make a safer product and refused to do so."

A spokesman for Philip Morris said the company already is working on "cigarettes that are less likely to cause fire when handled carelessly." But Brendan McCormick said there's no such thing as a "fire-safe" cigarette. He used the term "reduced ignition propensity" cigarettes.

For cigarette companies, the problem is how to make a cigarette that goes out when it falls on a sofa - but remains lit while someone is actually smoking it.

The New York legislation is part of a recent trend to make inherently dangerous - but legal - products safer for consumers.

The move to require trigger locks on guns - Maryland just succeeded in doing so -- is another example of what some see as an effort to legislate or litigate some industries out of business.