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Fire-Safe Cigarettes (FSC) are special cigarettes designed to extinguish quickly, if ignored, with the intention of preventing unintended fires. "FSC" above the barcode officially stands for Fire Standards Compliant (FSC) and are also known as Reduced Ignition Propensity (RIP) cigarettes. These have been introduced at the insistence of regulatory authorities in response to concerns about fire deaths claimed to have been caused by cigarettes.

Fire safe cigarettes are produced by adding two bands to the cigarette paper during manufacturing in order to decrease burn rate at the bands. Many materials can be used to make these bands, including cellulosic or other polymeric materials. Because this process decreases the burn rate and does not prevent unattended cigarettes from igniting nearby tinder, the term "fire-safe" has often been called a misnomer.

Most commercial cigarette papers use cellulosic and alginate bands although there are many registered patents in the literature concerning the materials that may be used to make the bands, including EVA polymer, ethylene vinyl acetate. EVA polymer should not be confused with the monomer of EVA, which is a reactive species and has some toxic properties. When burned, the polymer of EVA forms similar compounds as are found in the smoke from the combustion of tobacco and papers.

EVA polymer and PVA polyvinyl acetate polymer adhesives have been used by the tobacco industry for many years in numerous products and are the industry standard. They have not been associated with adverse health effects


Responses from tobacco manufacturers

Philip Morris USA (PM) has reported that the widely-used adhesive polymers EVA and PVA are used as side-seam adhesives in the non-tobacco ingredients of their cigarettes. Their FSCs are labeled with the term “FSC” on the pack above the UPC code. Philip Morris USA does not distinguish the differences in levels of use between regular and fire-safe cigarettes.[6]. The amounts stated do not exceed 0.6% combined. Phillip Morris uses cigarette paper technology known as "banded cigarette paper" to comply with the performance standard in the FSC laws by applying bands to the cigarette paper using ingredients already used in non-FSCs.

In October 2007, R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (RJR) said that it would sell only FSCs by the end of 2009.[1] Philip Morris now actively supports legislation.[2]

A similar quantity of EVA will be required to glue the paper together in a normal cigarette as in a fire safe cigarette. Different cigarette companies will use different materials (this may just mean thicker bands of paper) for the ‘speed bumps’ in their cigarette papers in order to comply with tobacco regulations.

Response from consumers

Some consumers say they have found a noticeable difference in the taste of FSC cigarettes from non-FSC cigarettes, comparing it to a copper or metallic taste. Other symptoms reported include an itchy rash, (allergic reaction) to severe headache, vomiting, diarrhea and mouth sores, since implementing this new law. Recently, there have been many online petitions against FSC cigarettes formed, to repeal the new laws. [7]

Currently there are no findings published on the long term health effects of humans inhaling EVA copolymers which are used in the packaging industry. Test results available, conducted on rodents, clearly show the risks associated with 'Ethylene Vinyl Acetate copolymer emulsion based adhesive' to be a 'highly carcinogenic substance' triggering the cellular proliferation necessary for tumor development.[8]

Regional implementation


United States

As of January 1, 2010, the fire-safe cigarette law is in effect in 43 states. It has been signed into law and will become effective in in Nevada and Ohio on 1 June 2010, in Mississippi on 1 July 2010, in North Dakota on 1 August 2010, and in South Dakota and Missouri on 1 January 2011. The only remaining state, Wyoming, has filed a bill that has not yet passed into legislation.[3] State laws generally contain provisions permitting the sale of non-FSCs that have been tax stamped by wholesalers and retailers in the state prior to the effective date of the state’s FSC law. The laws require cigarettes to exhibit a greater likelihood of self-extinguishing using a prescribed laboratory test method, E2187, developed by ASTM International (formerly, the American Society for Testing and Materials). The E2187 standard is cited in U.S. state legislation, it is the basis of the fire-safe cigarette law in effect in Canada, and it is being considered for legislation in other countries as well.[4]


In 1929, a cigarette-ignited fire in Lowell, Massachusetts, caught the attention of U.S. Congresswoman Edith Nourse Rogers (D-MA); she called for the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) to develop technology for "self-snubbing" cigarettes. The Boston Herald American covered the story on March 31, 1932, noting, that after three years of research, the NBS had developed a “self-snubbing” cigarette and the NBS suggested that cigarette manufacturers “take up the idea.” No cigarette manufacturer took the advice of the NBS.[5]

The United States Congress established the Consumer Product Safety Commission[9] (CPSC) in 1973 to protect the public from hazardous products. Congress excluded from its jurisdiction tobacco products, however, while assigning it responsibility for flammable fabrics.[6] The CPSC immediately regulated the flammability of mattresses[6] and has worked with furniture manufacturers to establish voluntary flammability standards[7] for upholstered furniture, although more recently those standards have come to be considered mandatory.[6]

In 1978 Andrew McGuire, a burn survivor, activist and winner of a 1985 MacArthur Fellowship for his work on the flammability of children's sleepwear, started a grassroots campaign to prevent house fire deaths by changing the cigarette.[8] McGuire secured funding for an investigation of cigarettes and fires which became Cigarettes and Sofas: How the Tobacco Lobby Keeps the Home Fires Burning. Massachusetts congressman Joe Moakley introduced federal FSC legislation in the fall of 1979, after a cigarette fire in his district killed a family of seven; California senator Alan Cranston authored a matching Senate bill.

The Tobacco Institute financed a fire prevention education program at the same time as the campaign.[9][10][11] When New York was poised to pass a state bill, a compromise resulted in the Cigarette Safety Act of 1984, which funded a three-year study under the auspices of the CPSC, which reported to Congress in 1987 that it was technically feasible and maybe commercially feasible to make a cigarette that was less likely to start fires.[12] Legislative activity continued in the states while the federal government, cigarette manufacturers, and advocates fought about next steps. McGuire and colleagues continued to inform advocates about cigarette fires and prevention strategies: legislation and liability.[13][14][15][16]

A later compromise led to the Fire Safe Cigarette Act of 1990. The resulting study, while more contentious, laid the groundwork for a flammability test method for cigarettes.[17] Federal efforts to implement a standard stalled after this, as the Reagan and Bush administrations supported free markets, not regulation. The grassroots campaign focused on state efforts. McGuire continued to publish reports about tactics and progress.[18][19][20]

In 2000, New York passed the first state law requiring that cigarettes have a lower likelihood of starting a fire. By the spring of 2006, four more states had passed laws modeled after New York's: Vermont, New Hampshire, California, and Illinois. McGuire published an update for the campaign.[21] That spring, the National Fire Protection Association[10] decided to fund the Fire Safe Cigarette Coalition [11] to accelerate this grassroots movement.

Since 1982, fifteen lawsuits have been filed regarding cigarette-ignited fire deaths and injuries. The first successful lawsuit resulted in a settlement for a toddler severely burned in car fire allegedly caused by a cigarette.[22]

In November 2008, Citizens Against Fire-Safe Cigarettes started an online petition, citing many of the known hazards of these cigarettes and advocating individual responsibility over federal regulation.[23]


On October 1, 2005, Canada became the first country to implement a nationwide cigarette fire safety standard. The law requires that all cigarettes manufactured in or imported into Canada must burn their full length no more than 25% of the time when tested using ASTM International method E2187-04: Standard Test Method for Measuring the Ignition Strength of Cigarettes. The law is based on the New York State legislation. Each year in Canada, fires started by smokers' materials kill approximately 70 people and cause 300 injuries, according to a study conducted by the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs.[24]


On November 30, 2007, 27 EU nations approved a European Commission proposal which would require the tobacco industry to use fire-retardant paper in all cigarettes in order to cut down on the number of sometimes fatal fires which dropped cigarettes cause each year.[25] The EU Commission has said, that all cigarettes sold throughout the European Union will be self-extinguishing fire-safe brands by 2011.[26]

In the UK there has been a proposal to ban the "old style" cigarettes in order to implement a fire-safe alternative.[27] Nearly 2,000 people across Europe are killed each year due to house fires cause by cigarettes and another 7,500 are injured.[28]

In the Scottish Parliament, West of Scotland MSP Stewart Maxwell has been a long-time advocate of ‘fire-safer cigarettes’ and has called for Scotland to take a lead in developing a European standard of the cigarette. In numerous motions laid in parliament, Stewart has called on the Scottish Government to use its influence to insure that the UK Government brings about the introduction of ‘fire safer cigarettes’ as soon as possible.[29]


In Australia, around 14 people die annually from cigarette related fires[30]. The government has accepted the proposal for FSCs and is in the process of implementing regulations.[31] Cigarette companies will be required to change their products to ensure that cigarettes self-extinguish more readily, before the regulations come into force in March 2010.[32]


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  10. ^ Gunja M, Wayne GF, Landman A, Connelly G, McGuire A. The case for fire-safe cigarettes made through industry documents. Tobacco Control 2002;11:346-353
  11. ^ Barbeau EM, Gelder G, Ahmed S et al. From strange bedfellows to natural allies: the shifting allegiance of fire service organizations in the push for federal FSC legislation. Tobacco Control 2005; 14:338-345
  12. ^ Technical Study Group on Cigarette and Little Cigar Fire Safety. Toward a Less Fire-Prone Cigarette. Washington, DC: Consumer product Safety Commission, 1987
  13. ^ McLoughlin E. The Cigarette Safety Act. Journal of Public Health Policy. 1982;3(2):226-228
  14. ^ Grannis AB. The New York Cigarette Fire Safety Act. New York State Journal of Medicine. 1983;839130:1299
  15. ^ DeFrancesco S, Teret S, McGuire A. Liability for Cigarette-related Fire Death and Injury. Trial Lawyer’s Quarterly. 1986; 17(4):9-15
  16. ^ McGuire A. Fires, Cigarettes and Advocacy. Law, Medicine and Health Care. 1989: 17(1):73-77
  17. ^ Consumer Product Safety Commission. Overview: Practicability of Developing a Performance Standard to Reduce Cigarette Ignition Propensity. August, 1993
  18. ^ McGuire A. "The Case of the Fire Safe Cigarette: the Synergism Between State and Federal Legislation," in Bergman A.B. (ed): Political Approaches to Injury Control at the State Level. University of Washington Press, Seattle/London, 1992, pp.79-87
  19. ^ McGuire, A., Daynard, R., "When Cigarettes Start Fires: Industry Liability," Trial Magazine, Vol. 28, No.11, Nov 1992, pp. 44-49
  20. ^ McGuire, A., “How the Tobacco Industry Continues to Keep the Home Fires Burning,” Commentary, Tobacco Control. 1999; 8:67-69
  21. ^ McGuire, A., “To Burn or Not to Burn: An Advocate’s Report from the Field,” Injury Prevention, 2005; 11:264-266
  22. ^ LA Times
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  26. ^ []
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  30. ^
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