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EU "Fire Safer" Cigarettes Set To Get Green Light

October 13, 2017

European Union safety experts are due to back plans to make all cigarettes sold in the bloc self-extinguishing in a bid to combat thousands of fire related deaths and injuries.

Experts from all 27 EU member states are expected to endorse proposals by Consumer Protection Commissioner, Meglena Kuneva to make "fire-safer" cigarettes mandatory across the EU.

Kuneva believes the cigarettes, which stop burning automatically after a few seconds if not puffed due to small gaps in the cigarette paper which cut the circulation of oxygen, can hugely reduce the number of deaths from fires in the EU.

An official said, "Once she gets their approval, which is expected following talks and negotiations over the past number of months, she will be able to start implementing her plan."

Data from 14 of the EU's 27 countries shows that over 2,000 deaths a year are caused by cigarette related fires, with thousands more people injured and tens of millions of euros worth of damage caused.

"These cigarettes will also go some way to helping combat some of the forest fires which have been on the upsurge and we know cigarettes have played a part in some of them," another European Commission official said.

Commission officials have been working on developing an EU wide standard for the cigarettes, similar to one in the United States and Canada.

If approved the Commission can begin the process of making these cigarettes compulsory in the EU within the next few years.

Canada introduced legislation in 2005 and a number of U.S. states have followed suit including New York, New Jersey and California, while Australia said it intends to also bring in laws for fire-safer cigarettes.

"So, it would be more sensible and easier if we draw up a common standard to be used across the globe," the first official said.

Previously tobacco firms said chemical additives required for fire-safer cigarettes would cause more damage to smokers and complained that smokers would not like the new taste. However a spokesman for Philip Morris, maker of Marlboro and other brands, said his company backed the move in principle.

ANEC, an EU-wide consumers' lobby group for standardisation, said it also supported Kuneva's initiative.

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