RIP Coalition Lobby’s Government as General Product Safety Directive Regulatory Committee meets this


Fresh, Smoke Free North East has now become a formal member of the RIP Coalition, a newly formed alliance lobbying the UK Government to support European action which would force tobacco manufacturers to produce fire-safer cigarettes.


[UKPRwire, Mon Nov 13 2006] RIP Coalition has joined forces to lobby the General Product Safety Directive Regulatory Committee this week as it meets on Wednesday to discuss the introduction of Reduced Ignition Propensity Cigarette legislation in to the EU.

Reduced Ignition Propensity (RIP) cigarettes could save dozens of lives every year as UK wide figures indicate that a massive 3,500 accidental house fires and more than 100 deaths are caused by smoking materials every year. Figures indicate that fires started by cigarettes kill more people than any other kind of fire [1].

In the North East there were 2,794 accidental house fires in 2004, which resulted in 8 deaths and 514 serious injuries. Smokers’ materials such as cigarettes, cigars or pipe tobacco were the most frequent source of ignition when accidental house fires resulted in death.

With the introduction of legislation to ensure an RIP standard for cigarettes across Europe the number of lives that could be saved in Europe each year would be 1,300.

The RIP Coalition [2] is made up of the Chief Fire Officers Association and fire services across the country, as well as the British Burn Association, public health organisations and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health. It is joining forces with the EU RIP Alliance to push for new legislation to introduce a RIP standard for cigarettes across Europe which could reduce the risk of fires by up to two thirds [3]. This week is crucial as on Wednesday 15th November the General Product Safety Directive regulatory committee is meeting to discuss the introduction of such a standard.

Government research suggests that two thirds of fires started by cigarettes could be prevented if the cigarettes were modified so that they went out quickly when not drawn on, for example if dropped or left alight by accident [4].

RIP cigarettes have been successfully introduced into New York and other states in the USA as well as other countries including Canada. To help combat the needless deaths caused by cigarettes a new coalition called the RIP Coalition has been formed in the UK to campaign for the same standard in the UK.

Ailsa Rutter, director of Fresh ,Smoke Free North East, said: "The RIP Coalition is an important step forward in lobbying the UK government to support urgent action on the introduction of RIP cigarettes. RIP cigarettes could save dozens of lives every year and prevent hundreds more serious injuries. They have already been introduced successfully in parts of the US and in Canada, despite opposition from the tobacco industry.

“The technology has been available for 20 years and manufacturers should be held responsible and change over to fire safer cigarettes. We hope the UK Government will see sense and support urgent European-wide action on this issue."

Standards for RIP cigarettes could be introduced in the EU under the General Product Safety Directive (GPSD), and there is support from the European Commission for this move. But currently it is not clear whether the UK Government will support action on this issue.

For more information visit www.freshne.com.

Ends
Notes and links:
[1] Fire Statistics for the United Kingdom: 2004
(http://195.80.32.155/docimages/1553.pdf)

[2] For more information about the RIP Coalition and its membership see www.ash.org.ukhtmlactionhtmlRIPCoalition.html
[3]http://www.astm.org/cgi-bin/SoftCart.exe/DATABASE.CART/HISTORICAL/E2187-02B.htm?L+mystore+tyfz5125
[4] Comparisons of the Propensity of Fire Safe Cigarettes and Conventional Cigarettes To Ignite Textile Materials Used In A Domestic Environment (http://www.odpm.gov.uk/index.asp?id=1163267)

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Robson Brown.

Sophie O’Mahony – 0191 244 6669 – sophieo@robson-brown.co.uk
Sally Pearson - 0191 244 6656 – sallyp@robson-brown.co.uk

Company: Robson Brown


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