Lawmakers in Kentucky, the nation's top burley tobacco-producing state, have made a welcome move that could save lives: prohibiting the sale of traditional Cigarettes in favor of those that extinguish themselves. The law, which passed unanimously, will take effect next year.
We commend state lawmakers for making such a bold statement, considering that tobacco production in Kentucky is a multimillion-dollar enterprise. Kentucky also has the highest rate of smokers in the country, at 27.5 percent, according to the state Department of Public Health.
Kentucky becomes the eighth state in the nation to pass such legislation, joining states such as California, New York and Illinois. Other states should consider passing similar laws, Reducing the loss of life and property from fires caused by smoldering Cigarettes.
The issue may have reached a tipping point in Kentucky after a house fire that killed 10 people Feb. 6. Officials say it was probably caused by a burning cigarette. The possibility of such fires is Reduced with nontraditional, ribbed Cigarettes, which put themselves out when a smoker no longer puffs on them.
National fire safety officials say 700 to 900 people die each year in fires caused by smoking materials. In Kentucky, 33 percent of fire deaths are associated with smoking materials.
Those numbers offer compelling reasons to change the paradigm regarding the kind of Cigarettes that are sold in the state.
This can serve as a first step, with a long-term goal of getting More Kentuckians to stop smoking, Reducing health care costs and deaths related to smoking. Like Ohio, Kentucky offers help to smokers in the form of a quit line (800-QUIT NOW).
Nontraditional Cigarettes will save lives related to fire and smoke, but seeing More and More people kick the smoking habit would be a greater cause for celebration.