According to the National Fire Protection Association, an estimated one out of every four fire-related deaths in the United States in 2006 was caused by smoking materials (i.e. cigarettes, pipes, cigars, etc.), making smoke materials the leading cause of fire deaths. Not only do smoking materials-related fires take lives, but they also cause millions of dollars in property damage each year. In 2003, New York adopted a fire-safety standard for cigarettes that required all cigarettes sold in New York to have low ignition strength. Tobacco companies were required to sell new "fire-safe" cigarettes that had bands around them to stop them from burning if not puffed on regularly. The standard became effective in June 2004 and roughly a year later there were already reports that the annual death toll for cigarette related fires had fallen by a third. Today, as many as 38 states have adopted similar fire-safe cigarettes standards, and Nevada is now joining the trend.
On March 3, 2009, Nevada legislators introduced Bill AB 229, seeking to set up the requirements and performance standards for fire-safe cigarettes to be sold in the State. The new requirements will apply to all cigarettes sold or offered for sale in the state but will not apply to cigarettes purchased by wholesalers before the effective date of the bill if the wholesaler can show that the Nevada cigarette revenue stamps were affixed to packages before the effective date and that he purchased a similar quantity of cigarettes during that period the previous year. As in New York, cigarettes will be required to have bands on them that act as "speed bumps" in the burning process. There are additional labeling requirements and all cigarettes must be recertified under the safety standards every three years.
Steve is the Managing Shareholder of Steven J. Klearman & Associates, a civil litigation law firm located in Reno, Nevada. He practices primarily in the areas of civil litigation and injury law, and has authored one of the definitive guides to Nevada civil law that is widely used by Nevada judges and attorneys, his book entitled Elements of Nevada Legal Theories.