North Dakota Senate Passes Fire-Safe Cigarette Bill

March 27, 2009

North Dakota smokers may have to get used to puffing more frequently to help prevent accidental fires.

The state Senate voted 41-0 this week to approve legislation that says North Dakota tobacco merchants may sell only “reduced ignition” cigarettes after August 2010. Conventional smokes will no longer be available in state-licensed shops.

At least 38 states have already approved similar measures, according to the Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes, an advocacy group that is promoting the idea. The North Dakota bill now goes to the state House for additional review.

Sen. David Hogue, R-Minot, said the cigarettes have special strips of paper, called “speed bumps,” that cause an unattended cigarette to go out.

“The cigarette will self-extinguish if the smoker is not drawing upon the cigarette,” Hogue said in a Senate floor speech. There was no debate over the measure before it was approved.

Montana and Minnesota began requiring the special cigarettes last year. Earlier this month, the South Dakota Legislature agreed to mandate their sale, starting in January 2011. The New York legislature was the first to adopt the idea six years ago.

North Dakota fire statistics indicate that at least 30 fires were started each year by neglected cigarettes in 2005, 2006 and 2007. Eleven people died in those fires, Hogue said.

“The fire professionals across the state of North Dakota are in
full support of this bill,” he said.

The bill is HB1368.

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