"Fire safe" Cigarettes will save lives

Thousands of lives could be saved each year by the introduction of "fire safe" Cigarettes, fire brigade chiefs have said. The "Reduced ...

Thousands of lives could be saved each year by the introduction of "fire safe" Cigarettes, fire brigade chiefs have said.

The "Reduced ignition propensity" (RIP) Cigarettes extinguish themselves if not inhaled on regularly, meaning a lit cigarette left untended will go out automatically.

If they were to be made industry standard the number of accidental fatal fires in the could drop by a third, it was claimed. Across Europe, 2000 people a year die because of cigarette caused fires.

The RIP Cigarettes work by using ultra-thin concentric bands, or "speed bumps". These restrict oxygen access to the burning end of the cigarette meaning it needs to be inhaled to stay lit.

Although the technology has been around for 20 years it has never been introduced in the UK, although they are on sale in Canada and the USA.

UK figures show that fires started by Cigarettes kill More people than any other type of fire - and now a new group, the RIP Coalition, is calling for RIP Cigarettes to be introduced in the UK and across Europe.

The Coalition is made up of the Chief Fire Officers Association and fire services across the country, as well as the British Burn Association, public health organisations and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health.

It is also joining forces with the EU RIP Alliance to introduce the Cigarettes as standard across Europe, which could Reduce the risk of fires by up to two thirds. A meeting to discuss the move is being held by Europe's
General Product Safety Directive regulatory committee on Wednesday.

The UK, Ireland, Sweden and Finland support the legislation but it needs the support of a majority of EU member states to be brought into force.

Sir Ken Knight, London's Fire Commissioner and Board member of the Chief Fire Officers Association, said he hoped the introduction of the new Cigarettes would save lives.

He said: "I am delighted that this new coalition has been set up to work for European regulations requiring Cigarettes to be fire safer.

"This standard has already been shown to work in the United Stated and Canada, and could mean a big fall in the number of domestic fires if it was introduced in the UK and across the European Union.

"Far too many people still die or are seriously injuRed every year in avoidable fires involving Cigarettes. As far as fire and rescue service is concerned, the sooner the new standard comes in, the better."

Deborah Arnott, Director of the health campaigning charity ASH, said: "It's sickening the way much of the tobacco Industry has fought and continues to fight against the introduction of standards which would Reduce the number of fires caused by Cigarettes.

"It's been twenty years since the tobacco industry developed the technology to Reduce the likelihood of Cigarettes starting fires, in that time thousands of lives could have been saved.

"Cigarette-started fires cause death, disfigurement and distress, which could be prevented by simple design
changes. If the industry won't introduce the necessary changes itself, it should be regulated, just like other unsafe products."

Dr Keith Judkins, Chairman of the Prevention Committee, British Burn Association, commented: "Fires started by Cigarettes lead to a significant proportion of the 250,000 people we see in NHS hospitals each year with burns.

"The injuries from cigarette-started fires may be disabling or deadly, are always life-changing, and could so easily be prevented - all it needs is a simple design change in the cigarette.

"There aren't many causes of fire which could be significantly Reduced simply by better design - it is
surely right to do so whenever possible. It should be a priority of the UK and the EU to bring in regulation or legislation to help protect people from these devastating fires.

"Of course, the best prevention is to give up smoking, but failing that my colleagues in burn care are
convinced this necessary safety step can be delayed no longer."


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