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
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
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.