Tobacco Firms Get Ready to Produce Less Combustible Cigarette

Tobacco companies are getting ready to release a new, less combustible cigarette in order to comply with a New York law aimed at reducing the number of deaths and injuries caused by smoking-related fires, the Los Angeles Times reported June 1.

The compliance deadline is June 28, and most tobacco companies said they would meet the date.

The new cigarettes will only be made available in New York. Industry executives said they would continue to ship their regular brands to the 49 other states. The decision could lead other states to pass laws similar to New York’s, and result in lawsuits by victims of cigarette fires in other states.

“The momentum is increasing towards passage of a national law,” said Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), who is co-sponsoring a bill with Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) to apply the New York regulation to the rest of the country. “The tobacco companies are living on borrowed time. Unfortunately, people are dying during that time.”

Canada has also drafted measures that could require fire-safe cigarettes by next year.

But the tobacco industry contends that the fire-safety laws for cigarettes would only lull people into careless behavior. The industry has maintained that smoking-related fires are a result of careless smoking, not unsafe designs.

“It would be irresponsible for anyone to think that cigarettes in New York won’t start fires,” said Steven Watson, vice president of external affairs for Lorillard Tobacco Co.