Less Fire-Prone Cigarettes: How we got to the 1st plateau of success


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Richard G. Gann, PhD, Senior Research Scientist for the Fire Research Division of the Building and Fire Research Laboratory, provides a brief overview of the fire-safe cigarette technology and the success to-date of the effort to pass laws to require the sale of fire-safe cigarettes in the United States.

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Less Fire-Prone Cigarettes: How we got to the 1st plateau of success

  1. 1. Less Fire-prone Cigarettes: Fire- How We Got to the 1st Plateau of Success… Richard G. Gann, Ph.D. Senior Research Scientist Fire Research Division Building and Fire Research Laboratory rggann@nist.gov gg @ g www.bfrl.nist.gov 4th World Conference on Fire Safe Cigarettes October 29, 2009
  2. 2. Why Less Fire-prone Cigarettes? Fire- • Cigarette-initiated fires are still the largest single cause of fire deaths (2006 data, NFPA) – 143,000 fires – 780 deaths – 1600 reported injuries – $606 million in property damage – $4 billion total direct cost (1992) • Today, commercially feasible, less fire-prone products are in the marketplace p
  3. 3. Prior Activity • Contention between the furnishings industries and the cigarette industry regarding who would change their products • Cigarette industry “won” • Simple, Simple effective test methods developed – Mandatory standard for cigarette resistance of mattresses, administered by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission – Voluntary mandatory and pending standards for cigarette Voluntary, mandatory, resistance of furniture – Federal standard for ignition resistance of loose-fill insulation • Slow turnover of furnishings; limit now reached • Rapid turnover of cigarettes
  4. 4. Action on the Other Front • “Fire-safe” cigarettes are a century-old id “Fi f ” i tt t ld idea • Could not have regulation (or manufacture) of cigarettes without a measurement method for ignition propensity • Prime sponsor of Congressional legislation: (late) Joseph Moakley, with (late) John Heinz and (late) Alan Cranston – Cigarette Safety Act of 1984 (Public Law 98-567) 98 567) – Fire Safe Cigarette Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-352) • Extensive research led to a new state of cigarette testing methodology
  5. 5. Technical Study Group (1984-1987) (1984- • Identified properties that might affect ignition propensity: – Paper porosity very important: low = better – Paper burning additive less important: none = better – Tobacco density (mass) very important: low = better – Cigarette circumference important: low = better – Filter tip important: presence = better • Variation of cigarettes within commercial bounds could produce large changes in ignition propensity • Excellent agreement between cigarettes tested on real chairs and on mock-ups of the same materials.
  6. 6. Patented Approaches • Five patented cigarette embodiments submitted in response to Federal Register notice: – Very low porosity p p with added p y p y paper perforations – Fire retardant added to center of tobacco rod – Cellulose bands on paper – Application of chemical to outside of p p pp paper – Intumescent powder added to tobacco column • All showed reduced ignition propensity relative to the same cigarette without the patented feature
  7. 7. Other TSG Conclusions • The best experimental cigarettes had ignition propensities considerably lower than commercial cigarettes • Some low ignition propensity experimental cigarettes had average per puff CO, tar, and nicotine values comparable to commercial cigarettes • “It is technically feasible and may be commercially feasible to develop cigarettes that will have a significantly reduced propensity to ignite upholstered f it h l t d furniture or mattresses. Furthermore, the overall impact on tt F th th ll i t other aspects of the United States society and economy may be minimal. Thus it may be possible to solve the problem at costs that are less than the potential benefits, assuming the commercial feasibility of p g y the modified cigarettes.”
  8. 8. Technical Advisory Group (1990-1993) (1990- • P t t Prototypes of two test methods d ft t t th d developed, correlated with each l d l t d ith h other, and showed very good interlaboratory reproducibility – Mock-up Ignition Method – Ci Cigarette Extinction M th d tt E ti ti Method • Tested (1992) commercial cigarettes, finding some that were of reduced ignition propensity • Showed that brands of fire-starting cigarettes could be identified • "The Technical Advisory Group, by a vote of 11 to 4, believes that sufficient technology and information is available to deem practical the development of a performance standard to reduce cigarette ignition propensity."
  9. 9. 1993 – 60 Minutes: “Up in Smoke”
  10. 10. Technical Basis for Tests • Tobacco column must burn long enough and intensely enough for the upholstery fabric/padding to begin smoldering • Filter paper, like the fabric, absorbs heat • A less fire-prone cigarette has too little energy left over to raise the fabric temperature enough or even to continue burning
  11. 11. ASTM E 2187: Standard Test Method for Measuring the Ignition Strength of Cigarettes • Simple method with technical s pport ith support • Usable for all cigarettes that burn a tobacco column • Lay a lit cigarette on 3, 10, or 15 layers of cellulose filter paper • Determine whether cigarette burns the full length of the tobacco column or not • Determine percent failures in 40 trials
  12. 12. Typical Test Results
  13. 13. Action Timeline • 2000 – NY Law (Assemblyman Pete Grannis) • 2001 – NIST verified that the test market Merit cigarettes showed much reduced ignition propensity • 2002 – R fi d Ci Refined Cigarette Extinction Method adopted as tt E ti ti M th d d t d ASTM E2187-02b • 2002 – NY rule set: ≤ 25 PFLB on 10 layers of filter paper • 2003 – Analysis of historic data showed that test results have been stable for a decade, despite minor method changes • 2004 – ASTM method refined to become ASTM 2187-04; no effect on test results • 2009 – Refinements of ASTM procedure
  14. 14. Standard Reference Cigarette • Plain i Pl i cigarette with non-banded paper ih b d d • PFLB measurements by NIST, NRC- Canada, Kidde-Fenwal • 12 6 % ± 3 3 % full length burns 12.6 3.3 full-length • Near design point to comply with the 25 PFLB regulatory criterion • Enables quality assurance a d qua y ab es qua y assu a ce and quality control for manufacturers, testing laboratories, and regulators • Available since February 2006 • Cost per carton: $188
  15. 15. International Acceptance 2009 “Firefighters and fire safety people have an entrepreneurial Firefighters fire-safety style about them. All it takes is one or two guys to make something happen. It’s no surprise that you start to get this nonlinear, exponential expansion of a grassroots movement.” • 49 States • Canada • Australia • New Zealand • Finland • Estonia • Soon: European Union • Under consideration in Japan
  16. 16. Where Would They Help? Reduction of cigarette initiation of fires involving: – Upholstered furniture – Mattresses and bedding – Trash – Wildlands BUT these cigarettes are not fire-safe!
  17. 17. Effect of New York State Rule • In effect as of June 28, 2004 • .42 fire deaths/year ( y (2000-2003) ) • .27 fire deaths/year (2005-2007) • Actual reduction of about half
  18. 18. Issue Being Resolved • Upholstered furniture, mattresses and insulation need to furniture mattresses, be tested using a full-strength cigarette – Testing with a weaker cigarette would let more ignitable materials into the marketplace and offset the gains from FSC cigarettes • The original specified test cigarette is now FSC • NIST has developed specifications for a cigarette equivalent to the original • A standard test cigarette (SRM 1196) will be available this winter • Regulatory and voluntary actions must follow
  19. 19. Live Issues • We need data to indicate reductions in cigarette-initiated cigarette initiated fires and the life loss from those fires • There are likely to be some modifications to ASTM E 2187 as a result of the broader use of the method – Every effort is being made to ensure that these changes do not affect the test outcome – Need more participation from regulators and their test labs • There is already interest in further reducing cigarette- initiated fires (assuming that the early data scale nationwide)
  20. 20. Cigarette Ignition Propensit Propensity: How We Got to the 1st Plateau of Success… Thank you for your interest! i t t! rggann@nist.gov Go to: www.bfrl.nist.gov “Highlights” “Less Fire-prone Cigarettes”