UK Should Implement RIP Cigarettes Urgently

27 May 2010

Ahead of World No Tobacco Day, observed around the world on 31 May, SNP MEP Alyn Smith has lodged a parliamentary question to the Commission calling for the implementation, without delay, of Reduced Ignition Propensity (RIP) Cigarettes throughout the EU.

The cigarettes, already on sale in the US and Canada, have a restricted oxygen supply to the burning end, and die out if left to smoulder. Tobacco manufacturers don't sell fire safer cigarettes in the UK, where cigarettes continue to be the largest cause of domestic fire deaths causing up to 3,000 fires per year.

The European Union is currently developing a standard to be introduced across Europe, however Finland has introduced its own regulations from 1 April 2010. The UK government has however been hesitant in welcoming the proposals and the tobacco industry is currently arguing against RIP cigarettes because of concerns that they would be sued if fires occurred.

Smith said:

“Ahead of World No Tobacco Day I am calling on the UK government to follow the European Commission's tough stance on this issue and to commit to introducing RIP cigarettes at the earliest instance.

“30 out of 76 domestic fire deaths in Scotland in 2004 were attributable to cigarettes or other tobacco products, making fires started by cigarettes the biggest single killer. Unfortunately, the legislative power is reserved to Westminster and therefore the Scottish Parliament cannot implement this life saving measure but that will not stop us from pressurising Westminster to open their eyes and protect the health and safety of UK citizens.

“I welcome the Commission's unequivocal position on RIP cigarettes and urge the UK to speed up implementation of higher standards.”

Smith recently launched a petition on his website calling for an end to subsidies for tobacco production within the European Union. Scotland’s top footballers David Weir, Michael Stewart and Mark Kerr all supported the MEP’s campaign to show the red card to a £300 million taxpayer handout to the tobacco trade.

A link to the Commission’s response to Smith's PQ: