Utah may join six other states by requiring that only "fire-safe" cigarettes be sold in the state.
SB200, sponsored by Sen. Ed Mayne, D-Salt Lake, aims to reduce the number of cigarette-ignited fires by requiring tobacco companies to stock Utah's shelves with reduced ignition propensity cigarettes.
The cigarettes are made with thicker paper in two areas, which helps restrict oxygen and interrupts the burning process, said Andrew McGuire, director of the National Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes. The technology helps the cigarette to extinguish itself before igniting household materials and sparking a fire.
"If the cigarette drops on the couch, the thicker paper does not allow ember the oxygen to continue to burn," McGuire said.
Utah fire departments responded to 2,100 smoking-related residential fires between 1995 and 2005, Mayne told members of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Monday. Those fires caused 41 deaths and more than $4 million in property loss.
"Cigarettes are the leading cause of home fire fatalities in Utah and the rest of the nation," Mayne said. "But we have the opportunity to prevent these horrible situations."
Calling the bill a "no-brainer," committee members unanimously approved SB200.
Also on Monday, the committee moved forward a bill that clarifies the rights of cities and counties to pass ordinances banning smoking in public outdoor spaces.
That bill is HB201 and is sponsored by Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield.