Blaze Raises Questions About Fire Safe Cigarettes

Friday, February 6th 2009, 5:10 pm
By: News On 6

By Tara Vreeland, The News On 6

TULSA, OK - A Tulsa apartment fire is blamed on a carelessly discarded cigarette. Some wonder if the fire could have been prevented had the cigarette been deemed fire safe.

It is not known if the cigarette that started the fire was considered fire safe.  But, that's the idea behind a new type of cigarette and new legislation:  to stop a fire before it can start.

"Really what it is designed to, is that the cigarette will self-extinguish so that as it burns, unless someone is actually drawing on the cigarette, it will not continue to burn," said Tulsa Fire Captain Michael Baker.

The cigarettes are wrapped with several thin bands of paper, called speed bumps, which slow down the burning.

"All you gotta do is relight it and go with it," said smoker Loretta Nicholas.

Oklahoma smokers will soon be buying them whether they're ready to relight or not.

New legislation under the Fire Safety Standard and Firefighter Protection Act is designed to help reduce the number of fires caused by cigarettes. Oklahoma is one of the most recent states where the bill has passed.

"We've had a couple of complaints on them. When it first started happening people said they taste different and that they hated that they went out all the time," said Kristy Sommer, Indian Tobacco Smoke Shop Supervisor.

"I don't like the fact that the cigarettes taste different, but the concept of the cigarettes going out if their left in an ashtray is great because it cuts down on fires," said smoker Loretta Nicholas.

Taste or not, the goal of the fire safe cigarette is to prevent fires.

"Even with a fire safe cigarette, if you flick a large ash into the trash can you are going to run the risk that that ash smolders and catches something on fire that's in the trash can," said Tulsa Fire Captain Michael Baker.

And, that's something to take into consideration. Fire safe does not mean fire proof.

The new law took effect on January 1st. Stores have up to a year to sell the rest of the regular cigarettes, but the shelves will be restocked with fire safe cigarettes.   

Cigarettes that are fire safe are marked FSC on the box.