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Gillon stubs out fag fires

Gillon stubs out fag fires


Immediate release 9 November 2000

Fires started by cigarettes are unusually lethal

Now there is the prospect of cigarettes that are less likely to start fatal fires.

Typically, a cigarette fire starts when someone drops their smoke. Since they're designed not to go out until they have been totally smoked, the cigarette will burn through a cushion or mattress cover and start a fire that smoulders for hours.

These hidden fires produce toxic gases that often make sleeping victims deeply unconscious before the cushion or mattress bursts into flame.

On Wednesday week Parliament will debate a Member's Bill promoted by Alliance MP Grant Gillon, who is a former firefighter.

If the Bill is passed the Standards Council will have to draw up a safety standard for cigarettes.

The Cigarettes (Fire Safety) Bill was drawn from a ballot of Member's Bills today.

The idea for comes from the US, where a government study revealed it is possible to manufacture a cigarette that is less likely to start fires.

Manufacturers can reach the standard by reducing the diameter of the cigarette, reducing the density of tobacco packaging and reducing the porosity of cigarette paper (which allows less air to flow through the paper).

Grant Gillon says that about six hundred fires a year start because of the careless disposal of cigarettes.

"This is simply about making cigarettes safer and saving lives."

"Cigarettes are the largest single cause of fire deaths. Twenty people are killed or injured in fires caused by cigarettes each year.

"Treating injuries related to smoking fires is estimated to cost $65 million each year. That doesn't include lesser burns treated elsewhere or damage to property. It is better to spend a much smaller sum of money on fixing the problem by making cigarettes safer.

"We have tried to cut down on fire deaths by educating the public and by introducing standards for the flammability of materials. These approaches are valuable, but there is one more step: the cigarette itself."

A ban on disposable lighters that were not child resistant resulted from Grant Gillon's 1998 member's bill. Fire Service figures indicate a dramatic fall in the number of fires caused by lighters since the ban was introduced.

ENDS

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