North Carolina Requires "Fire-Safe" Cigarettes By 2010

North Carolina has joined 20 other states in requiring "fire-safe" cigarettes be sold in the state.

Gov. Mike Easley today signed into law House Bill 1785: "An act to require cigarette fire safety by adopting a cigarette fire-safety standard." The new law requires that cigarettes sold in North Carolina be self-extinguishing in an effort to reduce the number of smoking-related fires and home-fire deaths.

"Cigarettes are the leading cause of deaths from fires in North Carolina," said Easley. "By making the change to self-extinguishing cigarettes, it is estimated that as many as 50 fire-related deaths in our state could be prevented each year."

The state says between 2001 and 2006 there were 2,916 cigarette-related fires in North Carolina. Advocates say the self-extinguishing cigarettes could save three of every four cigarette-related fire deaths.

The new law requires that all cigarettes sold in North Carolina be self-extinguishing and that it be indicated on the product's packaging. A manufacture that fails to follow the law could be subject to a $100,000 fine. A retailer could face a fine of up to $25,000 for knowingly selling cigarettes that are not self-extinguishing.

The new law takes effect January 1, 2010.