Fire-safe cigarettes are becoming a hot item. Legislation recently passed stating that beginning in April 2008 stores will only be allowed to sell the kind of cigarettes that extinguish themselves.
You'll hear these fire-safe cigarettes described as having reduced cigarette ignition propensity or RCIP's. It's a term the tobacco industry uses in describing the slow burning technology. Governor Fletcher feels this technology that the new legislation requires will keep Kentuckians safer, and twenty states could follow in Kentucky's footsteps making their own citizens safer.
"The value of this cigarette is priceless," Fletcher said.
The legislation comes after a February fire that investigators said was started by a lit cigarette. Six children and four adults were killed during that house-fire in Bardstown, Ky.
"A cigarette left unattended can have catastrophic effects, even destroy property as well," Fletcher said.
Cigarettes like Philip Morris's USA brand cigarette Merit will be the only type allowed to be sold in Kentucky come April 2008, because Merit uses the special technology, the paper that burns itself out, and has since 2000.
How the technology works is when the burning ember reaches what they call a speed bump the burning process will then slow down. You'll then have to take another puff to prevent the cigarette from burning out.
Philip Morris USA owns the patent to the special paper and supports the tobacco state and seven others on the safe cigarette legislation.
"Basically the rings are embedded within the paper that overlay on top of the paper," a Philip Morris representative said.
During WBKO's own test the Merit cigarette burned almost at the same rate as a regular-burning cigarette, and it is important to add that the tobacco is the same in both cigarettes. It is also important to remember that the idea behind the banded paper technology is the cigarette is less likely to stay lit or more likely to self-extinguish when left unattended.
When all is said and done, the legislation isn't coming without controversy. Tobacco company RJR Tobacco opposes the mandatory conversion calling it "misleading" because the cigarettes still burn and can still cause fires. However California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, New Hampshire, Utah and Vermont have similar laws.