Dosanjh Tables Regulations to Reduce Fire Risk of Cigarettes


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OTTAWA - Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh has tabled in the House of Commons proposed regulations to reduce the fire risk of cigarettes and address the leading cause of residential fire-related deaths and injuries in Canada.

"These regulations reflect Canada's leadership in tobacco control," said Minister Dosanjh. "We will be the first country to have a national standard to reduce the fire risk of cigarettes. I would also like to highlight the efforts of the Honourable John McKay, Member of Parliament, who brought the issue to the forefront of Parliament with his bill that became the Act to Amend the Hazardous Products Act (fire-safe cigarettes) on March 31, 2004."

Smokers' materials are the leading cause of residential fire-related fatalities and loss in Canada each year. The Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs reported for the period 1995-1999 that at least 14,030 fires were started by smokers' materials. These fires killed 356 people, injured 1,615 and cost more than $200 million in property damage. The victims of these fires are often among society's most vulnerable, such as children, the elderly and the poor.

"Manufactured cigarettes ignite an average of more than 2,000 fires in Canada annually," said Chief Michael Eddy, President of the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs. "The fatalities and injuries to the general population and to firefighters caused by these fires are unacceptably high. The Health Canada regulations will reduce those losses significantly and are strongly supported by the Canadian Fire Services."

"It must be clear. Reduced ignition propensity cigarettes are not fire-safe," said Minister Dosanjh. "A burning object is never completely fire-safe. By reducing the ignition propensity we feel we will lower the amount of fires started by cigarettes and save more lives."

The proposed regulations would require all cigarettes manufactured or imported for sale in Canada to meet a performance standard intended to reduce these fire risks, by October 1, 2005. The regulations were pre-published in the Canada Gazette, Part I on May 1, 2004 with a 75-day comment period. Input provided from interested parties was reviewed and the Minister is now required to table the regulations in the House of Commons where it will be referred to the Standing Committee on Health for review.

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For more information or to arrange an interview with Mr. McKay please contact Bob Loptson at (416) 283-1226