JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri became the latest state Tuesday to join a national movement in requiring cigarettes to be self-extinguishing.
The Missouri House voted 137-16 to give final approval to legislation that requires the special type of cigarettes starting in 2011. If signed into law by Gov. Jay Nixon, retailers could be fined up to $100 per pack for knowingly selling cigarettes that do not meet self-extinguishing requirements.
Since 2006, the Coalition for Fire Safe Cigarettes has been pursuing state laws requiring the self-extinguishing cigarettes. Missouri became the 46th state to approve that type of legislation. The only states that have not are Alabama, Michigan, Nebraska and Wyoming.
So-called fire-safe cigarettes have a special paper that causes the lighted end to go out when the burning tobacco reaches the treated section. The cigarettes essentially are designed to burn out when someone stops puffing on them. They are intended to reduce the chances for house fires caused by people falling asleep while smoking.
Lorraine Carli, a spokeswoman for the National Fire Protection Association, which is coordinating the coalition, said requirements for self-extinguishing cigarettes initially were adopted in New York, Vermont and California. She said the laws have worked well.
"This has been a very successful initiative that will definitely save lives and reduce property damage," Carli said.
The National Fire Protection Association estimates that 700-900 people nationwide are killed annually in home fires caused by cigarettes.
The Missouri legislation would leave it to the attorney general's office and the Department of Revenue to enforce the cigarette requirements for retailers. The state fire marshal would be responsible for ensuring that manufacturers comply with the self-extinguishing standards.
Rep. Michael Frame, a critic of the legislation, said he supporters the effort to reduce the potential for home fires but fears that administering the cigarette requirements could pose a burden for businesses.
"It gives small business owners one more bureaucracy that they have to deal with in their daily lives," said Frame, D-Eureka.