Michigan's smokes now will burn themselves out
By Gina Damron; Tammy Stables Battaglia
January 2, 2010
A state law that took effect Friday requiring stores to sell only self-extinguishing cigarettes, may help snuff out smoking-related deaths.
The law -- which Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed in June -- requires retailers to only sell cigarettes that are state certified that they will burn out on their own if left unattended.
The Michigan Fire Marshal's Office cites careless smoking as the cause of 319 fires in Michigan in 2008 -- the latest figures available. In those fires, which caused $8.4 million in damage, four people died and seven firefighters and 26 civilians were injured.
Michigan has joined 48 other states across the country in the effort, with Wyoming being the only state that hasn't implemented the law, said Terry Fobbs, assistant to Michigan's fire marshal and manager of the state's fire-safe cigarette program.
"It's very shocking," Michigan Fire Marshal Ronald Farr said, adding that a large number of fires with undetermined causes also may be responsible for additional deaths and losses. "It is at best very difficult to prove a discarded smoking item is the cause of fire."
Scott Justin, owner of Walters' Pipe Shop in Detroit, said some manufacturers started phasing in the fire-safe cigs this fall. Since then, sales of loose tobacco -- to make hand-rolled cigarettes -- have been up about 10%, he said.
Justin said the increase in sales is because customers don't like the new cigarettes.
"People resist change," he said.