During the 2007 session, the NC Legislature passed House Bill 1785 NC Fire Safety Standard and Fire Fighter Protection Act (GS 58, Article 92), sometimes referred to as the “Fire Safe Cigarette Act”, requiring that all cigarettes sold or offered for sale in NC meet the criteria for reduced ignition propensity cigarettes. This law is expected to significantly reduce the number of people killed or injured by fires on mattresses and upholstered furniture caused by cigarettes left burning in North Carolina.
Many cigarette fires result from carelessness, such as improper disposal of cigarette butts or intoxicated smokers falling asleep. According to the American Burn Association and the federal government, almost 1000 Americans die each year and over 2,500 are injured as a result of fires started by cigarettes. One-quarter of victims of smoking-material fire fatalities are not the smokers whose cigarettes started the fire: 34 percent are children of the smokers; 25 percent are neighbors or friends; 14 percent are spouses or partners; and 13 percent are parents.
Technology has existed for decades to make cigarettes safer and less likely to cause fires. Traditional technology keeps a cigarette burning even without puffing. This is accomplished by including a significant amount of citrate-burning agents. Within 10 minutes, 90 percent to 100 percent of traditional cigarettes will cause fires in ignition tests -- and a cigarette can smolder for up to 45 minutes.
These cigarettes are not new. Patents for self-extinguishing cigarettes were granted 70 years ago. In response, more and more states have adopted legislation that would require that only Reduced Ignition Propensity cigarettes (RIP) be sold in that state. Although these cigarettes are commonly referred to as “fire-safe cigarettes”, it is important to remember that any cigarette can cause a fire, and must be completely extinguished before discarding and smokers should exercise great caution. Basically, a RIP cigarette is one that has demonstrated a reduced ignition propensity in certain laboratory tests. These tests indicate that these cigarettes are less likely to ignite bedding and upholstered furniture, such as mattresses and sofas. The most common form of RIP cigarette involves wrapping the cigarette with two or three thin bands of less-porous paper that acts as a kind of "speed bump" to slow down the burning cigarette. If a RIP cigarette is left unattended, the bu rning tobacco will eventually reach one of these "speed bumps" and self-extinguish. More information about this technology and efforts in other states and countries is available from the Fire Safe Cigarette Coalition.
Cigarettes sold in NC must meet the following criteria:
- The cigarettes must satisfy ASTM International Standard E2187-04, entitled “Standard Test Method for Measuring the Ignition Strength of Cigarettes” or an alternate test method approved by the State Fire Marshal.
- The cigarettes must be sold in packaging with the letters “FSC” in font no smaller than 8pt. near the UPC code or another marking approved by NC Office of State Fire Marshal.
- A certification must be submitted by the manufacturer of the cigarettes to the State Fire Marshal certifying that each cigarette listed in the certification has been tested and satisfied the performance requirements listed in (1) above.
- Certification will be required every three years and there will be a certification fee of $250 for each brand style.
Click here to search for cigarette brand styles certified for sale in NC. If you leave all other fields blank and search for the brand styles with a status of active you will get a listing of all certified cigarettes that can be exported to Excel or pdf format.
North Carolina’s Law at a Glance
Date Law Passed: August 2007
Date Law Effective: January 1, 2010
Overseeing Agency: Commissioner of Insurance
Products Covered: Cigarettes only
RIP Standard: Less than 25% Full Length Burns using ASTM 2187-04
Responsible for Certification: Manufacturer
Recertification Timeframe: 3 years
Audit Frequency by Primary Agency: At Primary Agency's discretion
Audits include RIP testing: No
Primary Agency Granted Regulatory Authority: Commissioner of Insurance
Legislative Look Back Provision: No
Certification Fees per Brand: $250
Superseded By Federal Law: Yes
Cite: Article 92