The search for a "safer cigarette"

Indiana lawmakers are poised to debate cigarette safety next year.

The issue has nothing to do with smoking, and everything to do with fire protection.

Fires started by cigarettes are the leading cause of residential fire deaths in the United States.

Smoking is the leading single cause of fire fatalities in Indiana.

While cigarettes are a major cause of fires, some feel it does not have to be that way.

“I saw exactly how it behaved,” said Clay Territory Fire Marshal Dave Cherrone: “it’s pretty amazing.”

Cherrone had heard of fire safe cigarettes although he never saw them up close until Newscenter 16 presented him with a pack on Wednesday.

22 states have passed laws allowing only safe cigarettes to be sold.

In the interest of science, Fire Marshal Cherrone lit two cigarettes at the same time and left them unattended.

The fire safe cigarette went out after approximately two and a half minutes. The regular Marlboro burned and burned to the butt: a process that took close to 15 minutes.

“In this case if it was someone who left this sitting on an ash tray and bumped it off, on to some upholstery and into a wastebasket, its not saying this is going to immediately go out and not cause a fire, but its propensity to burn is reduced” said Cherrone.

The difference between safe cigarettes and the rest of the pack is the paper.

In some places the paper is thicker on safe cigarettes. If you empty the cigarette and hold the paper up to the light, you’ll see a series of “rings.”

“They call them speed bumps,” says Cherrone: “when the heat gets to that area because of how it’s manufactured and placed on there, it slows down.”

It is a small change that could have a large impact in preventing fires.

Two of Indiana’s neighboring states—Illinois and Kentucky—have already passed safe cigarette legislation.

The safe cigarette pack purchased locally and put to the test by the Fire Marshal, was imported from Canada.

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