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THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Fire-safe cigarettes are what tobacco companies wanted

New York state officials are optimistic about data released this week that show fire deaths attributed to unattended cigarettes have decreased since the state outlawed continuous-burning cigarettes last year.

According to the records, 28 people died last year in fires in New York blamed on cigarettes. Deaths from such fires totaled 43 in 2000, 44 in 2001, 38 in 2002 and more than 30 in 2003, for which the state has incomplete data.

The records also show a month-to-month decline after the measure went into effect in June 2004.

Not only is the information good news for residents of New York, but also for the tobacco companies who make the self-extinguishing smokes that go out if they're not puffed on regularly.

After all, about 900 people die each year in fires started by unattended cigarettes. By reducing that number, the tobacco companies maintain a larger base of customers of their product.

Those who fire-safe smokes save will live to smoke again — until they die from cancer, emphysema, chronic obstructed pulmonary disease or some other smoking-related ailment.

Reducing by 15 the number of people who die due to unattended cigarettes is less than a wisp of smoke compared to the fog of 400,000 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says die each year of smoking-related illnesses.

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