House Panel OKs Standard For "Fire-Safe" Cigarettes

A House committee today approved a bill requiring companies to make and sell cigarettes that burn out if left unattended. The measure has the cautious support of the state's tobacco makers.

The so-called "fire-safe" cigarettes are rolled with special paper that smothers burning tobacco unless someone is actively smoking the cigarette. Several experts told the committee discarded cigarettes are the leading cause of structure fires in NorthCarolina and cause half of the fires in which someone dies.

They said fire-safe cigarettes will cut down on the number of fires by reducing the time discarded cigarettes smolder.

Chapel Hill Fire Chief Dan Jones told the committee that a fire that killed five people at the University of North Carolina in 1996 had smoldered in a trash can overnight.