Speaking at the International Conference on Prevention of Tobacco Induced Diseases at Little Rock, Arkansas (USA), Hemant Goswami, a leading public health and social activist from India, asked the global scientific community to be more vigilant and alert before embracing the concepts like “Fire Safe Cigarettes.” Speaking on the subject of “Reduced Ignition Propensity Cigarettes – Facts, Fiction and Manipulations” Goswami made his case by analyzing the tobacco industry videos and document to point towards a clear strategic push by a big tobacco multinational which ultimately managed to influence and convince one of the US states to adopt the concept of fire-safe cigarettes. Quoting the adoption of fire-safe standards by New York as an example, the notion has now caught up in many other States and countries.
“We must do independent primary research before accepting and adopting concepts like fire-safe cigarettes, (also called Reduced Ignition Propensity Cigarettes [RIP]) which are claimed to be less likely to ignite indoor structural fires if left unattended. Such concepts have been only tested from the fire-safety point of view and no independent study has still been undertaken by the scientific or public health community to assess the effect of the engineered modifications in RIP cigarettes. The scientific community must do independent primary study to get a clear idea about things like, the effect on Nicotine delivery due to change in mass burn rate, paper porosity, chemical coatings, banding pattern manipulation on RIP; the increased toxicity levels in RIP; puff-to-puff count and changes in actual human puffing and inhalation of RIP so as to assess it’s effect on current smokers and know about any increase in addictiveness and other changes,” Hemant emphasised.
Elaborating further on the issue, Hemant said, “The scientific community and the legislatives were highly vulnerable to the manipulation and rigging by the tobacco industry. This was evident from the tobacco industry bates document which shows that Phillip Morris had undertaken secret studies code named as “Project Tomorrow,” “Project Hamlet,” “Project Delta,” etc. with an intention to develop a patented cigarette paper technology so that it could give it’s business the cutting edge and reduce the competition in the market. The company actually succeeded in its objective by developing such a patented cigarette paper and also managed to manipulate and strategically push it through the scientific and public health community in the name of “Reduced Ignition Propensity” cigarettes. The patented paper and the testing method developed by Phillip Morris (On which ASTM standard E2187-02b have been modelled) have been adopted in its totality on the pretext of fire-safe cigarettes. Such tactic has already increased the market share of the big tobacco in the New York by eliminating the smaller and unorganised tobacco industry players.”
There has been a dangerous cross-over as now many health departments across the globe are adopting RIP as fire-safe cigarette standards, unconcerned and unmindful of the fact that the initial concept of RIP was tested by the NY fire-safety department and the modification were also approved by the fire-safety department and not the health department. This crossing over of the concept from the fire safety departments to public health department is the biggest slip and manipulation ever in tobacco control.
The analysis of the structural fire related fatalities in NY also show that there has been no reduction in the fire-related deaths as was initially claimed. Moreover, contrary to popular belief, RIP cigarettes actually offer no protection from the California like forest fires.