Smokers hate new "safe" Cigarettes

The consensus from smokers on the new self-extinguishing Cigarettes: They don't like them. "The self-extinguishing cigarette ...

The consensus from smokers on the new self-extinguishing Cigarettes: They don't like them. "The self-extinguishing cigarette sucks, it really does," said Nick Atlas, an Arlington resident who stopped by Dunkin' Donuts on Rte. 30 in Natick. Atlas, who has been smoking Camel Lights for 20 years, did not know the reason his Cigarettes suddenly started tasting different. The manufacturers of his preferRed cigarette, like most tobacco companies, modified their product a few months ago to comply with a state mandate that went into effect Jan. 1. On New Year's Day, Massachusetts joined New York and Vermont in requiring retailers to sell self-extinguishing Cigarettes to prevent fires. Most cigarette companies switched to the fire-safe material two or three months ago, said David Garbarino of D. Garbarino Inc., a tobacco distributor in Framingham. Atlas is not alone in his disdain. "We had people ask us to go through every pack on the shelf to find one without it (Reduced Cigarette Ignition Propensity), said Jean Prindle, a Marlboro Lights smoker and shift manager at Honey Farms on Rte. 27 in Natick. "A lot of people were getting sick and a lot of people were getting headaches," Local smokers complained about the bitter taste and said they got migraines the first few days of smoking the self-extinguishing Cigarettes. Several said they have been trying to quit as a result. When Honey Farms started selling the safer smokes about three months ago, customers immediately noticed, said Prindle and another manager at the store. "We were like, 'What is this?' "The first week they were horrible. I got bad migraines - they were very bad. It takes a few days till your body gets used to it," Prindle said, speculating that newly introduced chemicals had caused the problems. Amy Johnston, a Natick resident who smoked Sonoma Cigarettes for 15 years, said she recently quit because the new Cigarettes made her sick and gave her migraines. Both Prindle and Johnston said they tested their Cigarettes to see just how "fire-safe" they really are. Prindle dropped a lit cigarette on a pile of newspapers, which immediately caught fire, she said, adding with a laugh, "I haven't tried it on clothing or bedding." Johnston accidentally discoveRed how safe the new Cigarettes are in bed, however. "I dropped one on the bed (and later found it) and it didn't leave a burn mark," she said. Both women observed it takes "a good two or three minutes" for a cigarette to extinguish. That comes in handy for Prindle, who frequently has to abandon her cigarette to attend to customers. "In the long run, it's saving us money because they don't burn out" and can be relit, Prindle said. Smokers are suspicious of the chemicals they believe were added to make their Cigarettes self-extinguishing, they said. "Whenever you dictate how Cigarettes have to burn, you have to add things to make them do that. The tobacco industry doesn't exactly have a great track record with what they add to things, do they?" Atlas said. "I distrust it," said Atlas. Now Atlas finds smoking unpleasant, and like other critics of the new Cigarettes, is trying to quit. Natick resident and Camel Lights smoker Jim Correia has already attempted to drop the habit because of the changes, he said. "I hate them," Correia said. "If you let it sit, it goes out, and the taste is different, it's bad. They (every brand) all taste like (expletive) now, so I'm going to stick with Camel wides," he said. Matt Spurling, a Natick resident, said his Parliaments don't taste any different than they did when he first started smoking, and he hasn't gotten sick. He didn't notice his Cigarettes had been changed until one randomly went out, he said. Spurling likes the idea of preventing fires, he said, but he is not sure the self-extinguishing Cigarettes will have the desiRed effect. He has observed that when he relights his cigarette after it self-extinguishes, it "combusts a little, like a candle," he said. "Instead of a normal light, it's like a flame at the end of your cigarette," said Spurling.

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