Smoke without fire

Waghied Misbach

Waghied Misbach

Firefighters have called for tobacco companies to make a new kind of cigarette that will be less likely to cause a fire if left to smoulder.

Yesterday the Fire Protection Association of Southern Africa (FPASA) asked parliament to consider the introduction of such cigarettes, known as "reduced ignition potential" cigarettes.

The FPASA is a non-profit company that aims to reduce the loss of lives and property from fire.

In its submission to parliament, the FPASA explained that the technology existed to make cigarettes with a reduced ignition propensity.

This is done by creating "speed humps" in the cigarette paper.

"These speed humps are little more than bands of porous paper that can slow down the burning of a cigarette if it is left unattended - a valuable defence against cigarettes igniting bedclothes and furnishings," the FPASA said.

The organisation said the new safer cigarettes had been introduced in New York and had "no effect on sales, indicating consumer acceptance".

The cigarettes were found to be no more costly or toxic than conventional cigarettes.

The association said smoking accounted for an average of 4,5percent of fires in occupied premises over the past five years.

The association said 72percent of the fires that fire-fighting service were called to were caused by carelessly discarded smoking materials.

In Ekurhuleni, the average cost of a fire service call-out in 1999 was R9514. An estimated 36985 grass fires occurred that year.