Beginning in 2010, a new European Union law will come into effect that makes it illegal to sell cigarettes that are not self-extinguishing. While the new law is designed to save lives, the news agency TT reports that the tobacco industry has been fighting hard to extinguish the plan.
Around 2,000 people die each year in the EU from fires ignited by forgotten or dropped cigarettes. The new cigarettes are made from a special paper that extinguishes itself when left unattended. Finland will become the first EU nation to put the law into effect when it makes the transition in April 2010.
Sweden has also strongly backed the EU initiative, and will be joining Finland and the rest of the Union later in 2010. Bjorn Albinsson, a fire engineer at the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB), stated: “A third of fire fatalities are caused by smoking. We hope to cut them in half.”
Albinsson also told the TT that the tobacco industry was firmly opposed to the new law simply because it is more expensive to manufacture the self-extinguishing cigarettes. The special cigarettes have been around for decades, but the tobacco industry has relentlessly fought against producing them. Instead, cigarette manufacturers suggest smokers stop lighting up in bed and install fire alarms.