Some Mississippi Stores Already Selling ‘Fireproof’ Smokes

April 23, 2010

With cigarettes as a leading cause of house fires, and Mississippi ranked one of the highest in the nation for fire deaths, the “fireproof” cigarettes that will be sold by law in July are expected to be a positive step in the fight against loss of life and property.

Mississippi State Chief Deputy Fire Marshal Ricky Davis said the “Fire Standard Compliant” cigarettes that most outlets are already selling — and all will be required to sell by July 1 — are not actually fireproof, but do reduce the risk of a fire starting from a burning cigarette.

“The theory is that everything we can do to reduce that chance of having a fire, that’s what we’re trying to do.’What the FSC cigarette is designed to do is, say if someone’s lying in bed or on a couch and they go to sleep, the cigarette is designed to go out if you’re not puffing on it or if it’s not actively being smoked,” Davis said.

Local tobacco stores have already started putting the FSC cigarettes on their shelves, and smokers are giving mixed reactions.

“I’m a chain smoker anyway,” said Larnelle Jones of Brookhaven. “I don’t stop taking drags long enough for it to go out on me.”

Others don’t feel as positively about the new smokes, some citing constantly having to re-light them.

“Some people don’t like that the cigarette goes out and you have to light it again,” said Tobacco Mart employee Kimberly Hood.

And, she said, some people think they have a funny taste.

Davis said there’s no evidence that there really is a different taste to the fire safe cigarettes.

“I’m not a smoker so I don’t know for sure, but from all the information I’ve been able to gather there should be no difference because it’s not any different chemicals,” he said. “I have been told by the manufacturers that there’s nothing taken away or added to change that cigarette from the regular cigarette except a thicker band of paper.”

Some people didn’t even know there was a change. Jamie Smith of Loyd Star said he had no idea that new standards are going into effect, nor had he noticed a difference in his cigarettes.

“I guess that means I’m smoking them right,” he said with a laugh.

Davis said Mississippi is not alone in bringing in the new, safer way of smoking. He said there are quite a few other states that also have made the FSC cigarettes the law.

“Several other states had come up with this and we found out about it and certainly with our high death rate we wanted to take every preventive caution we can,” he said. “The first state was New York that came up with it. Most of the states have it in place now.”

According to the U.S. Fire Administration and National Fire Data Center, smoking is the fifth most frequent cause of residential fire nationally, as well as the leading cause of fire deaths and the second-most common cause of fire-related injuries.

“It’s just that we’re trying to reduce the loss of life and property,” Davis said. “Of course Mississippi was ranked one of the highest in the nation for fire deaths, and we’re trying real hard to reduce fire deaths. This is something we should do, something I’m passionate about doing.”

Meanwhile, cigarette outlets have to have nothing but FSC cigarettes on the shelves by July 1. Smith said that’s OK with him.

“If it means I’m less likely to catch my back seat on fire trying to throw a cigarette butt out the window, I’m fine with it,” he said.

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