Fire Safe Cigarette Project
In the spring of 2006, New Hampshire Governor John Lynch recently signed a piece
of legislation that was proposed by Dover Youth to Youth students - with help
from the Dover Fire Department and the NH Fire Chief's Association. The new law
will require that only "self-extinguishing" cigarettes be sold in the state of
NH. The initiative is a public safety effort since the new cigarettes will be
designed to go out if
are put down and not used - making them less likely to start a fire if disposed
of carelessly or dropped on a sofa cushion. The Dover students solicited the
help of the Dover Fire Department, who became instrumental in getting the
proposal through the legislature and obtaining additional help from the NH Fire
Self-extinguishing cigarettes are designed to put them selves out by adding thin
rings of paper in the cigarette that act as "speed bumps" preventing the
cigarettes from continuing to burn unless the smoker inhales. The tobacco in
cigarettes is also packed differently during the manufacturing process.
In 2004 Dover Youth to Youth
approached Dover Fire Chief Perry Plummer about supporting self-extinguishing
cigarettes. Chief Plummer brought this information to the New Hampshire Fire
Chiefs Association. The Fire Chiefs Association then hired a lobbyist to help
them draft a bill. The legislation (HB 645-FN) was proposed in the NH House in
The bill passed through the
Criminal Justice and Public Safety committee and was then put to study in the
summer of 2005. In the fall of 2005 the legislation passed through the
House Ways and Means committee. Youth to Youth
students spoke at each of the house committee hearing on the bill.
Students went beyond speaking
before the state legislature to support HB 645-FN. Students wrote letters to
several state representatives, and had personal conversations with some of them.
They also worked to raise public awareness around the issue and gain constituent
support for the legislation. For example, in the summer of 2005 at a large
community event attended by over 3,000 citizens, Dover Night Out, students
created and distributed palm cards making the public aware of the issue.
The palm card had facts and
information about HB 645-FN and encouraged community members to contact their
representatives. Youth to Youth members also helped write and record a radio
public service announcement that made the public aware of the dangers of
cigarette caused fires and the need for the legislation.
September of 2005 students from Y2Y took the lead in planning and moderating a
press conference at the South Side Fire Station in
Dover where they conducted their own non-scientific experiment with the
self-extinguishing cigarettes. The students wanted to answer skeptics that were
doubting that the self-extinguishing would work and claiming that they tasted
different to the public. They placed the self-extinguishing cigarettes and
an ashtray and lit both cigarettes to watch them burn.
After a few minutes it was clear that the regular cigarette was burning at a
considerably faster speed than the self-extinguishing cigarette and was creating
much more smoke. When the regular cigarette was burnt almost to the filter the
self-extinguishing was almost out. At the end of the experiment it was clear to
anyone at the event that self-extinguishing cigarette really did go out when it
was left unattended.
At the press conference
students also conducted a "Taste Test Challenge" where smokers were invited to
try fire-safe cigarettes from NY and compare them to the cigarettes they
normally smoke. All of the smokers that tried the fire-safe cigarettes stated
that they did not taste any different then what they normally smoke, some even
stated that they would prefer the fire-safe cigarettes because they know that
they would not be putting their family at risk of dieing in a fire started by
their cigarettes. The press conference resulted in a front page article in the
newspaper and state legislators and several community members who came being
better informed on the issue.
In 2006 the NH House Ways and Means Committee finally voted to approve and pass
the bill. The full House then voted overwhelmingly to pass the bill 272 to 72.
The House voted on the bill in January and passed the legislation to the
Senate. On March 8th the Senate voted to pass the legislation. In
May of 2006, the governor signed the bill into law. The law was written to be
effective in October of 2007. Youth to Youth student Emily Martuscello, who was
the student leader on this project, attended the signing of the legislation by