N.H. Fire-Safe Cigarette Law In Effect

October 2, 2007

A law requiring cigarettes sold in New Hampshire be self-extinguishing kicked in Oct. 1.

Self-extinguishing, or “fire-safe” cigarettes, are designed not to burn unless a smoker inhales. Supporters of fire-safe cigarettes say they will keep New Hampshire safer, since cigarettes are the number one cause of fire related deaths in the United states, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

John Raymond, assistant director of the state Fire Marshal’s office, said retailers will be allowed to sell off their current inventory of regular cigarettes. But as of Oct. 1, new cigarette shipments will have to carry the fire-safe seal.

Retailers violating the law face civil fines of up to $1,000 per sale depending on the number of cigarettes sold.

Raymond said some New Hampshire merchants already have begun ordering fire-safe cigarettes in advance of the law, partly because Vermont has required them for more than a year.

John Dumais, president and chief executive of the New Hampshire Grocers Association, said retailers were helped by the long lead time to switch from regular to fire safe cigarettes.

“The Legislature worked with us to create a program where there was enough lead time to make the transition happen,” he said.

New York was the first state to require the cigarettes in 2004. Since then more than 20 states have followed suit, including New Hampshire, which in 2006 become the fifth state to pass a fire-safe cigarette law.

The bill was sponsored by Seabrook Republican Al Weare. It was signed by Gov. John Lynch in May 2006 with a start date of Oct. 1.

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