Safer, self-extinguishing cigarettes designed by manufacturers sold in ny, while less-safe full-burning version sold in ma & throughout u.s. — january 23, 2005 -2005 releases — press release archives — press releases — harvard school of public health

For immediate release January 23, 2005

Boston, MA Smoldering cigarettes are the leading cause of fire deaths in the United States causing more than 800 deaths per year. The technology to create safer cigarettes exists. To meet a New York safety standard that went into effect June 28th, 2004, the major US cigarette manufacturers have altered the design of cigarette brands sold in that state. While the companies are selling reduced ignition propensity (RIP) versions of their cigarette brands in New York, the same brands sold in different states appear not to have been altered to be less fire prone.

Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), funded by the American Legacy Foundation, compared the physical properties of cigarettes sold in New York with cigarettes of the same brands sold in Massachusetts and California.
The researchers found

  • That while not perfectly self extinguishing, New York cigarettes were far less likely to burn to the end than cigarettes of the same brands in California and Massachusetts. Ten percent of a sample of five major cigarette brands sold in New York had a ‘full burn’ compared to 99.8 percent of the California and Massachusetts cigarettes tested.
  • Reduced ignition was apparently achieved through banding of the cigarette paper.
  • The majority of toxic compounds (14) were not different between the smoke of NY and MA brands that were tested. Five compounds were slightly higher in NY brands. While this is of interest, there is no evidence that the small increases affect the already highly toxic nature of cigarette smoke.
  • Reviewing cigarette tax data for the past six months, the RIP cigarettes appeared to have no effect on sales of cigarettes in New York, indicating consumer acceptance.
  • Based on the New York experience, prior industry objections to RIP cigarettes are unfounded, the report concludes. There is no valid reason why cigarette manufacturers should not sell RIP cigarettes nationwide.

«Our research found that Massachusetts and California cigarettes were far more likely to ignite fires than the same brands sold in New York,» said Greg N. Connolly, from the Division of Public Health Practice at HSPH and lead author of the study. «New York smokers have accepted fire safer brands, and they were found to be no more costly or toxic than those sold in the other states. All states should adopt the New York standard to prevent needless death and suffering from fires caused by burning cigarettes.»

Connolly continued «One goal of making ‘fire safer’ cigarettes available nationally is to help reduce the number of smoking related fires and deaths from those fires. Once the New York standard has been in place for a year, more research will be possible to measure the actual reductions of fires and fatalities.»

«Fires started by lighted tobacco products are the leading cause of unintentional fire deaths in the United States,» said Dr. Cheryl Healton, president and CEO of the American Legacy Foundation. «In 2001 alone, there were 31,200 such fires resulting in 830 deaths 60 of them children not to mention over $386 million in direct property damage. Ironically, the capacity to save lives exists in New York but currently remains unavailable to the rest of the nation. I believe that the tobacco industry has the responsibility to make every cigarette they sell ‘fire safer’, if they cannot indeed make them ‘fire proof.'»

Click here for a pdf of the peer reviewed report «Fire Safer» Cigarettes The Effect of the New York State Cigarette Fire Safety Standard on Ignition Propensity, Smoke Toxicity and the Consumer Market. The report was written by Gregory N. Connolly of the Division of Public Health Practice at HSPH and colleagues.

Congressman Edward Markey (D MA), a symposium speaker, has called upon tobacco manufacturers to sell RIP cigarettes nationwide. He has authored legislation to create a federal standard for ‘fire safer’ cigarettes.

«The Harvard School of Public Health and the American Legacy Foundation deserve tremendous credit for dispelling the smoke screen of myths and misinformation that has surrounded fire safe cigarettes,» said Rep. Markey. «As this important new study demonstrates, New York cigarettes deliver fire safety benefits without affecting sales. Consumers who choose to smoke should receive protection from accidental fires caused by lit cigarettes whether they light up in Massachusetts, Montana or anywhere in between. This study will be an indispensable tool to combat discredited industry arguments against the establishment of a national fire safe standard.»

Massachusetts, California, Maryland, Colorado and other states are considering legislation that would require the New York standard in those states.

For further information contact
Robin Herman
Harvard School of Public Health
677 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA 02115
rherman
(617) 432 4752

Julia Cartwright
American Legacy Foundation
2030 M Street, NW 6th Floor
Washington, DC 20036
jcartwright
(202) 454 5596

Fda attacks menthol cigarettes for smooth flavor — hit & run : reason.com

Credit Tomasz Sienicki/wikimediaThe Food and Drug Administration has declared that menthol cigarettes pose a greater risk to public health risk than other kinds of cigarettes entirely because of the way they taste.

From the BBC

The agency said that while mint flavoured cigarettes may be just as toxic as others, it was easier to start smoking them and harder to quit. Menthol cigarettes are one of the few growing areas of the tobacco industry. The FDA has commissioned further research into the is inviting input from the health community, tobacco industry and members of the public about the products. «Menthol cigarettes pose a public health risk above that seen with non menthol cigarettes,» said the preliminary results of the FDA’s study. It also found the cooling and anaesthetic qualities of the menthol made them less harsh and more appealing to smokers.

The comments echo a 2011 FDA report, which concluded that «removal of menthol cigarettes from the marketplace would benefit public health in the United States.» The report also warned of the blindingly obvious danger that would accompany the prohibition of menthol cigarettes «A black market for menthol cigarettes could be created, criminal activity could ensue, and different methods might be used to supply such a black market.»

The proposition, that menthol cigarettes require special restrictions or even prohibition is not based on the toxicity of menthol cigarettes but on their flavor. Menthol cigarettes, it is claimed, are easier to smoke, as they have a smoother flavor than regular cigarettes, leading to more people starting smoking and fewer quitting.

Two former cabinet secretaries from the Carter and George H.W. Bush administrations condemned the lack of action on the part of the FDA in clamping down on menthols «The failure of this administration to act undermines the public health and is particularly harmful to vulnerable young Americans and African Americans.» The push to regulate and possibly even prohibit menthol cigarettes would certainly have a disproportionate impact on African Americans. 70 percent of African American smokers smoke menthols as opposed to 25 percent of white smokers.

Government officials and anti tobacco campaigners may view the restriction of menthol cigarettes as a potential victory for the health of African Americans. However, the FDA’s militant paternalism doesn’t exactly treat them as human beings responsible for their own decisions.

The FDA is preparing a consultation on possible measures to restrict menthol cigarettes.


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