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European Union: Proposal for Self-Extinguishing Cigarettes

(Sept. 4, 2008) Self-extinguishing cigarettes, which go out automatically within a minute if not puffed, are sold in Canada and in some states in the United States. Recently, the European Commission announced that all cigarettes have to be “fire-safe” by 2011. EU Commissioner for Consumer Protection Meglena Kuneva remarked that “by introducing self-extinguishing cigarettes, at least 2,000 lives could be saved in the EU each year.” (EU Plans Rules for Self-Extinguishing Cigarettes, EU OBSERVER, Aug. 6, 2008, available at; EU Plans “Fire-Safe” Cigarettes, BBC NEWS, Aug. 6, 2008,available at

In the European Union, cigarettes have been linked to causing forest fires; during the period 2005-2007, there were a reported 11,000 fires annually and 520 deaths caused by cigarettes. Smoking in bed has also been associated with deaths caused by fires. Under the new rules, the tobacco industry will be required to use additional layers of thickened paper around the cigarettes in order to slow down the burning process. The European Committee on Standardization has been involved in preparing the technical specifications for such cigarettes. (Id.)