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Apr-24-2006 20:34printcomments

Experts Say Fire Safer Cigarettes Would Reduce Oregon Fires

Scene of fatal fire in Ontario Oregon
Scene of fatal fire in Ontario
Photo Courtesy: Oregon Fire Coalition

(Salem) - Oregon fire officials say that on Friday, April 21st, a smoldering cigarette ignited started a fire in a mobile home and hospitalizing an Ontario resident.

The unidentified woman was transported to the Oregon Burn Center in Portland, where she later died. According to Ontario Fire Chief Terry Mairs, who investigated the fire, the damage to the single family residence is estimated at $5,000.

The Oregon Fire Safety Coalition wants the public to be aware the technology exists to reduce cigarette-caused fires and could reduce fire deaths, injuries and property loss if it were in use in the state.

Organizations statewide are supporting the Coalition's efforts to pass a bill in the 2007 Legislature requiring all cigarettes sold in Oregon be self-extinguishing. Fire-safer cigarettes use specially designed paper with "speed bumps" to restrict burning.

Oregon had 7,693 cigarette fires from 1999 through 2004 resulting in 30 deaths, 152 injuries and $27.9 million in direct property losses. Oregon cigarette-caused fires result in about 250 structural fires per year with losses averaging more than $4 million annually.

Smoldering cigarettes may ignite dry vegetation or debris outdoors, furniture or bedding indoors, and are hazardous when improperly disposed as trash if they continue burning when thought to be out.

The state of New York's legislation requiring fire-safer cigarettes was implemented in 2004. Since then, fire deaths have been reduced by 50%.

Oregon's proposed legislation will require the same standards as New York and laws recently passed by state legislative assemblies in California and Vermont. This same law is in legislative sessions in Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland and New Hampshire.

More information may be found at:

  • http://egov.oregon.gov/OOHS/SFM/docs/Comm_Ed/Cigarettes.xls
  • http://www.firesafecigarettes.org
  • http://egov.oregon.gov/OOHS/SFM/docs/Comm_Ed/LST/Campaign_BAM/ONAC_ads_pdf/SAU_Smoking.pdf

The Oregon Fire Safety Coalition is a recently formed group uniting stakeholders for action on fire prevention issues.




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