We’ve grown accustomed to seeing legislation banning cigarette smoking in certain states, but it’s become increasingly rare to see other cigarette-related laws come to pass. That’s not the case in Oklahoma, however, where a law passed before the holidays went into effect on January 1st. What does it do? It requires cigarettes sold there to comply with fire safety standards.
“Fire safe” cigarettes are made with paper that is thicker in two separate spots, causing the cigarettes to go out if not actively puffed when they burn to those areas. The design is meant to prevent fires caused when cigarettes are left unattended. Many other states already have similar requirements in force, and some brands of cigarettes sold in Oklahoma have already been redesigned to meet the new law.
According to the Coalition for Fire Safe Cigarettes, cigarettes are the leading cause of home fire fatalities in the United States, with an estimated 700-900 related deaths each year. In 2003, more than 25,000 structure fires were caused by cigarettes.
Oklahoma State Fire Marshal Robert Doke told the press last week, “There has been a rash of smoking materials deaths. A cigarette will fall into overstuffed furniture or mattresses when people fall asleep, or it rolls off an ashtray and on to the carpet, then the possibility for ignition happens. This cigarette is supposed to snuff out before it can cause enough heat to start a flame.”
By making fire-safe cigarettes mandatory, the State of Oklahoma hopes to avert such problems.