The European Union wants members of the 27-member bloc protected not only against lung cancer from cigarette smoke, but also deaths caused by cigarette fire.
By introducing self-extinguishing cigarettes, 2,000 lives could be saved in the EU annually, the EU Commissioner for Consumer Affairs said. The German Fire Departments’ Association supported the initiative.
To make self-extinguishing cigarettes, the technology Reduced Ignition Propensity — ironically with the acronym RIP — would be tapped. it involves placing bands of cellulose or alginate inside the cigarette paper, which will snuff the burning tobacco if not puffed on.
RIP is an old technology dating back to the 1930s. Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds have fire-safe cigarettes since the 1980s but did not market it heavily. Several American states like New York, Massachusetts and California allow only cigarettes using RIP technology to be sold in their area.
The proposal is part of Europe’s continuing battle against smoking, which has resulted to the prohibition of lighting up in public places, particularly restaurants and watering holes.
While these establishments have complained of drastic sales declines because of the smoking ban, tobacco companies are still generating huge sales. On Thursday, the British American Tobacco reproted its 2008 first half profit went up 15 percent to $265 million (134 million pound).